The Government today announced a major shake up of a number of Permanent Secretaries in an effort to ensure greater efficiency and accountability.
In a statement, the Ministry of the Presidency announced that the reassignments have affected the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Legal Affairs, Public Health and the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport.
State Minister Joe Harmon, who expressed some disappointment with budgeted spending said that with effect from March 1, 2017, Ms. Joylyn Nestor Burrowes has taken up the post of Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, replacing Mr. George Jervis, who along with the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance), Ms. Prema Roopnarine have been asked to proceed on leave. Ms. Collette Adams will now serve as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health following the removal of former Permanent Secretary, Mr. Trevor Thomas.
Ms. Delma Nedd, former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education will now function as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, while Mr. Alfred King, who was previously Permanent Secretary of the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, will now serve in the same capacity ar the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. Mr. Vibert Welch, who served in the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, has now been moved to the Ministry of Education. Ms. Melissa Tucker, the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Legal Affairs will now function as the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport.
Former Head of the Works Services Group of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Mr. Geoffrey Vaughn has been elevated to the position of Permanent Secretary for that Ministry, while Ms. Marlyn Stephens from the Public Service Commission has now been assigned to the Public/ Police Service Commission as the Secretary and Ms. Sophia Hunte is now the acting Secretary of the Teaching Service Commission. The Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Social Protection, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Communities, Ministry of Business, Ministry of the Presidency, Department of Public Service and the Ministry of Public Telecommunications all remain the same.
The Minister, who made the announcement at the closing ceremony of a three-day retreat and workshop at Splashmins Eco Park for top management employees of Ministries, Agencies and Departments of the Government, said that changes in the public service sector are critical to the provision of improved services to citizens. He referenced the performance of the Ministries during 2016, where less than 50 percent of budgetary allocations were spent.
“Last year, in our performance as Ministries, our public sector infrastructure programme, the completion rate was miserably low. Some claimed that they were new in the work, some weren’t sure what was expected and some were just ambivalent about the consequences of not doing things at the right time. So our performance last year was not good and we have to do better this year. You have to provide a service to the people and the State gives you a budget to do so but if at the end of the year you can only show 15, 20 or 30 percent completion, then something is wrong. We will have to make changes,” Minister Harmon said.
Directly addressing the Permanent Secretaries, who were a part of the workshop, Minister Harmon said that it is expected that they will be able to continue functioning in their new offices, adding that Government will continue to provide training, where necessary to ensure that improvements in performance.
“When you are a public servant, a Permanent Secretary, you have the capacity to function in any Ministry of the Government because your training is standard. We have invested in training of public servants. We have invested in training at the level of Permanent Secretaries. We are investing at the level of entrants into the public service and we are investing in training for persons in the middle tier. So we are spending quite a large sum of money in training people; training Guyanese to function at the level that is expected of them. Once you are given that training, much is required,” he said.