Opposition Member of Parliament and Former Minister of Public Service in the Coalition Government, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley has lashed out at the Government over its decision to close the Bertram Collins Public Service Training College.
The Ministry of Public Service in a statement last evening confirmed its decision to close down the four-year-old College and firing its 25 staff members.
The Ministry defended its decision by claiming that the College was established as a political machinery for the former APNU/AFC government and produced an outcome contrary to fair recruitment practices.
But the last Minister to hold responsibility for the College, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley in response today said the PPP Government’s decision to close the college is callous since it catered for a need in the public service and welcomed students from all backgrounds and from all across Guyana.
“That this regime would be okay with closing down an educational institution that was created to resolve one of the myriad of problems facing the public service is unconscionable. The four cohorts that graduated from the Bertram Collins came from all cross sections of Guyana. The administration of Bertram Collins went into all regions of this country to ensure that placement was equitable and that all regions and ethnicities were represented in each cohort”, Sarabo-Halley said.
She reminded that the College was opened in 2016 as the former Government moved to improve the quality of service offered in the government sector and public service.
“In 2015, when the APNU+AFC rose to Government, there were continuous cries from the citizenry that the public service was inefficient and archaic. Ministries as well as public agencies worked as silos and were unable to properly provide the services that the public expected and deserved. Some of the major issues we confronted were decades – long-vacant positions in critical departments, persons in positions for which they were woefully unqualified for all affecting the ability to smoothly serve the public”, she said.
On the Government’s position that the College was being used as a political machine for the APNU+AFC, Ms. Sarabo-Halley said such a thought insults the many young people who attended the College, graduated and were able to land jobs in the public service.
According to Sarabo-Halley, “that Ms. Sonia Parag (Minister of Public Service), would sign off on a press statement from the Ministry of the Public Service that could only be read as condescending and insulting of the students who qualified for this training is unfathomable. The entire population would agree that the public service is in dire need of well-trained professional intakes. If structural flaws are found how could the sincere response be to close the entire institution. This can be likened to the PPPs response to the State Asset Recovery Agency and their decision to close that agency down. What is of concern to us now is how the four cohorts approximately 240 young people will be treated by the Ministry of the Public Service and the other Ministries in which they work.
The staff members of the College received their dismissal letters on Friday, indicating to them that their services were no longer needed from the end of this month.