Five months after Jagdeo/Corbin dialogue…
Service commissions still to be constituted
Key appointments remain on hold
By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
October 20, 2003

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Five months after President Bharrat Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin met and issued a statement launching their “constructive engagement” the pivotal service commissions are still in limbo and so are key appointments such as that of the Police Commissioner.

The non-constitution of the service commissions also continues to hold up appointments to the judiciary as well as consideration of issues related to appointments, promotions and discipline in the judiciary and the teaching, police and public services.

While the non-constitution of the Public Service Com-mission holds up the establishment of the police and judicial service commissions, there is no such impediment to the installation of the Teaching Service Commission, for which the responsibility for appointing its members lies mainly with the President and the minister of local government. The President appoints three members after consulting with the Leader of the Opposition and the minister and two others after consulting with the local democratic organs. Neither the President nor the minister has initiated the consultation process. The President is also required to appoint a sixth member nominated by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU). Stabroek News has been informed that the GTU has already submitted the name of its nominee to the President.

Sidney Murdock, the president of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) says that as a consequence of the absence of the Teaching Service Com-mission, teachers were not being promoted. Further, those nearing retirement age now face a rather tedious process of getting their benefits computed and their retirement package expedited.

In a telephone interview with Stabroek News on Fri-day, Murdock said that the absence of the commission is interfering with the staffing of schools as the stop-gap measure currently in place only handles up to the level of trained teachers. He explained that in some schools, where there has been an exodus of teachers, their places are being taken by temporary qualified teachers, temporary unqualified teachers and in some cases temporary teachers and temporary assistant teachers.

The GTU boss pointed out that while he has no firm estimate as to the numbers of qualified and experienced teachers leaving the education system for positions overseas, his guess is that it is upwards of 350 a year.

The commissions have not been appointed since 2001 when the life of the previous bodies came to an end. The non-cooperation of the PNCR is one of the reasons the government had cited as delaying the establishment of the commissions.

Another reason for the delay in the establishment of the judicial and police service commissions is the non-constitution of the Public Service Commission whose chairman is, according to the constitution, a member of both these bodies.

Based on advice which Stabroek News understands the Attorney-General’s Chambers has tendered to the President, the judicial and the police service commissions cannot be properly constituted without the Public Service Commission chairman.

The stumbling block to the constitution of the commissions continues to be the inability of the Appointive Committee to agree on the two persons it must recommend to the National Assembly to be nominated for appointment by the President to the Public Service Com-mission.

The committee is at an impasse over the selection of the two persons from the names submitted by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), the Federated Union of Government Employees (FUGE) and the Public Ser-vice Senior Staff Association (PSSSA), with which it was mandated by Parliament to consult.

The GPSU and FUGE object to the inclusion of the PSSSA which was formed at the instigation of Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon, and comprises permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries and heads of government departments, all of whom are appointed on contract by the Office of the President.

The committee has not met since the National Assembly went into recess and is unlikely to meet before it reconvenes on October 23.