Georgetown, Guyana – (February 2, 2017) The Government of Guyana has undertaken a general review of all the State Authorities, Boards and Commissions with the aim of crafting clear and precise guidelines for the appointment and duration of service of persons, who sit on these Government bodies. It is also looking to create an atmosphere in which younger, qualified candidates can have an opportunity to serve in those capacities.
Speaking during an invited comment at State House, President David Granger said that the Government recognises that Authorities, Boards and Commissions play an important role in the governance of the country and provision of services to the Guyanese people and it is imperative that clear guidelines of service are established.
“It is impossible to function as a Government without these Authorities, Agencies, Boards and Commissions. The problem is that there is no handbook. There is no guideline. We know that these agencies and authorities have been established by law but some of them are vacant now. There is no Ombudsman, there is no Public Service Appellate Tribunal, and we want to ensure that all of the services are able to function, to deliver all of their services efficiently, to the public so the administration is now engaging in a review but we have discovered that there are no terms and conditions for the appointees particularly the chairperson of the Boards,” the President said.
The Head of State noted that terms and conditions cannot be left open ended and must be clearly defined. “In most countries, these agencies and authorities are supportive, they are a part of the Governance framework of the State, and they have worked well…but we need to go a step further and ensure that the terms and conditions are clearly laid down and they are not left open ended. Just as other public officers have to retire at a certain time, we feel that the Chairpersons and other members of Boards should be alerted that at some point in time they will have to retire so that is exactly what is happening,” the President said.
The President said that the work of Ministers and other officials of the State have to be supported in various ways and these State bodies, some of which are Constitutional bodies, have traditionally operated as a mechanism, allowing non-ministerial, skilled personnel to provide service to the people. Their functions cannot be underestimated and it is therefore incumbent on the Government to ensure that the systems are put in place not only for efficient management but to ensure that the guidelines for the length of service and retirement are documented.
“There is no hard and fast rule about how a person would be selected and this has led to the present dilemma that people do not know how long they are expected to serve and it is not clear how some persons were appointed. Although we don’t have a problem with those who were appointed, the time has come because of age and service qualifications for them to demit. There has to be an end and it just can’t go on forever. We feel that 15 years after retirement is almost a second profession for most persons especially those who have retired at age 65,” he said.
He explained that Governments have traditionally relied on professionals, particularly persons from the judiciary since they are expected to bring with them the qualities of independence, impartiality and integrity. “It has served well. I would like to point out that at the most senior level, Judges retire at 65 years and we feel that it is reasonable for them to serve another decade until they are 75 or perhaps 80 so we are working towards formulating rules, which would give persons in those positions an expectation that they must retire. The President has to retire, Ministers have to retire when the elections come, the Chief of the Staff has to retire, the Chancellor of the Judiciary has to retire, and people in the public service have to retire. So it is only expected that persons in those Authorities, Agencies, Boards and Commissions will retire,” he said.
As it is, the Government is currently examining nominations for Constitutional positions such as the Ombudsman and the Public Service Appellate. The President said that these will be identified after meaningful consultation, as required by the Constitution.
“We want to ensure that there is balance, particularly gender balance and we want to ensure that persons appointed are in fact qualified, that they have the expertise, education and experience and this will enable Guyanese people to get the best quality of service from these authorities and agencies. So this is what we are doing and I am very confident that in the end the public would be better served by these changes,” he said.