PSM clears air on Ramlal issue

Guyana Chronicle
December 21, 2002

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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Dr. Nanda Kishore Gopaul said: "Government has always and will always observe an Order of the Court, even though at times one may not agree with the decision of the Court. The proper thing to do is to observe the Court Order and then seek to have it set aside by appealing."
At a media conference yesterday in the Boardroom of the Ministry of Public Service, Dr. Gopaul clarified issues related to the dismissal of 8 staff members of the Supreme Court. He explained that while the court appeal is pending, Registrar of the Supreme Court, Ms. Sita Ramlal, as a Government official, pursued the path of having the staff reinstated.

"We want to clear the air on this issue that government will never disregard any decision of the Court of this land. We are prepared to abide by these decisions but we must be presented with the opportunity, where with doing so we do not commit any other breaches, especially those related to financial matters," Dr. Gopaul said.

He said: "We will do everything possible to bring a resolution to this issue, but the Lawyers of the Government have appealed the decision, and hopefully, all parties will be happy with the result."

It was noted that there was never a case whereby an employee was dismissed and the Court ruled that that person be reinstated.

The Court Order which was issued for Miss Ramlal to reinstate the employees, whom she dismissed, stated that she had no authority to hire and dismiss anyone. Clarification was sought from the Public Service Commission (PSC). The matter was also forwarded to the Attorney General for advice.

"Ms Ramlal also sought to have the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Nirmal Rekha release money or give some advice on the matter with respect to the employees. Mr. Rekha indicated that it is a matter which has some implication for the Financial Administration and Audit Act," said Dr. Gopaul.

He added that there are certain positions under which budgetary allocations are made, and once those positions are there, unless positions are created or persons are employed to make that position, there cannot be a sanction of payment by the Ministry of Finance in these matters.

When the workers were dismissed, replacements had to be found immediately, because of the nature of the job. It is not possible to have two sets of people receiving the same set of money, he explained.

A writ was also served on Miss Ramlal seeking a conviction of contempt and the refusal to obey the order. A writ was also served on Mr. Rekha and the Attorney General, Mr. Doodnauth Singh.

"What is disturbing however, is the attempt being made by officials of the Union, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) in particular, and some letter writers who want to portray or give the impression that Ms. Ramlal is flouting Court Orders. Ms Ramlal has remained quiet on the issue, but we merely thought of explaining the circumstances in this matter, and to explain that Ms. Ramlal has done everything possible to obey the Court Order, Gopaul said.

He pointed out that the delay has to do with the implications under the Financial Administration and Audit Act.

Justice Dawne Gregory-Barnes ruled that the High Court Order handed town by Justice Yonette Cummings, directing the immediate reinstatement of the eight dismissed Supreme Court employees and payment of their respective salaries and allowances from April 1, with 6 per cent interest be carried out by Ms Ramlal forthwith.

Dr. Gopaul emphasized that Government has absolute confidence in the manner in which Ms Ramlal has been discharging her functions as the Registrar of the Supreme Court. He said she has worked tirelessly, and in a dedicated manner to improve the delivery of service to the public since she held the position. He added that Ms Ramlal has 100 per cent support to "clean up the mess" at the Supreme Court Registry.
GINA Release

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