Those 2017 ar­bi­trary in­creases in wages and salaries of pub­lic ser­vants (Part I)

Stabroek News - - LETTERS -

A few weeks ago, I made a pre­sen­ta­tion on be­half of the Trans­parency In­sti­tute Guyana Inc. to the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Amer­i­can States that was con­duct­ing the fifth-round re­view of Guyana’s com­pli­ance with the In­ter-Amer­i­can Con­ven­tion Against Cor­rup­tion. One as­pect of my pre­sen­ta­tion re­lates to gov­ern­ment hir­ing. I pointed out that it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the Pres­i­dent of the Guyana Pub­lic Ser­vice Union (GPSU) to also hold the po­si­tion of Chair­man of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (PSC). The GPSU rep­re­sen­ta­tive present, how­ever, con­tended that the Con­sti­tu­tion al­lows for two union rep­re­sen­ta­tives to be on the PSC and that the Chair­man was elected by the other mem­bers.

Ar­ti­cle 200 of the Con­sti­tu­tion states that the PSC shall con­sist of six mem­bers who shall be ap­pointed as fol­lows:

(a) three mem­bers ap­pointed by the Pres­i­dent act­ing af­ter mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tion with the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion;

(b) two mem­bers ap­pointed by the Pres­i­dent upon nom­i­na­tion by the Na­tional Assem­bly af­ter it has con­sulted such bod­ies as ap­pear to it to rep­re­sent pub­lic of­fi­cers or classes of pub­lic of­fi­cers; and

(c) if the Pres­i­dent deems fit, one mem­ber ap­pointed by the Pres­i­dent act­ing in ac­cor­dance with his own de­lib­er­ate judg­ment:

How­ever, a per­son shall be dis­qual­i­fied for ap­point­ment as a mem­ber of the Com­mis­sion if he is a pub­lic of­fi­cer. The Chair­per­son and Deputy Chair­per­son of the Com­mis­sion shall be elected by and from mem­bers of the Com­mis­sion us­ing such con­sen­sual mech­a­nism as the Com­mis­sion deems fit.

As can be noted, the Na­tional Assem­bly is only re­quired to con­sult with the unions that rep­re­sent pub­lic of­fi­cers, and there­fore it does not nec­es­sar­ily fol­low that its nom­i­nees must come from the trade union move­ment. In any event, a mem­ber of any such union sit­ting on the Com­mis­sion faces a se­ri­ous con­flict of in­ter­est. Whose in­ter­est would such a per­son serve, that of the State or the pub­lic; or the in­ter­est of the mem­ber­ship of the con­cerned union? It is also not clear whether the Assem­bly was in­volved and whether such con­sul­ta­tion took place. If it did, the de­ci­sion to have two union rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the Com­mis­sion is clearly against the norms of good gov­er­nance. The fact that this was the prac­tice of the pre­vi­ous Ad­min­is­tra­tion is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for its con­tin­u­a­tion.

It is rel­e­vant to note that one of the rec­om­men­da­tions of Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the Pub­lic Ser­vice, es­tab­lished in Au­gust 2015, is that “the PSC should at all times be con­sti­tuted with suit­ably qual­i­fied and com­pe­tent per­sons of un­ques­tioned in­tegrity who would strive to be fair and im­par­tial in the ex­e­cu­tion of their duty in con­so­nance with the con­sti­tu­tional pre­scrip­tion that they ex­er­cise in­de­pen­dent judg­ment and not be in­flu­enced by po­lit­i­cal and other ex­ter­nal or ex­tra­ne­ous con­sid­er­a­tions”.

Last week, the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced wages and salaries in­creases for pub­lic ser­vants for the year 2017 retroac­tive from 1 Jan­uary. The monthly min­i­mum wage has been in­creased by 8% from $55,555 to $60,000. Prior to 2015, the min­i­mum wage was $35,000. There­fore, over the three-year pe­riod of the Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment, the min­i­mum wage has in­creased by 71.4%, which is not un­rea­son­able, con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent state of the econ­omy.

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