Calls were made for a complete overhaul of the current recruitment system within the public sector along with training for Ministers, as the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Public Service sector began public hearings on Tuesday.
The first witness to appear before the three member Commission, headed by Professor Harold Lutchman was Andrew Grant from the Department of Public Service.
During his almost one hour on the stand, Grant lobbied for training to be extended beyond public servants to include subject Ministers who he said, are sometimes placed to manage a sector they have limited knowledge about or haven’t had the necessary training.
Grant also said it was his fervent belief that there should be an overhaul of the current recruitment process to ensure more suitably qualified persons enter the public service.
He reasoned that persons should be employed based on qualifications and specialist skills instead of political alliance.
According to Grant, this is particularly important if the government is to rid the sector of political cronies and develop a truly professional public service.
Grant said the Public Service Commission, which is tasked with hiring and firing public servants, is a disappointment and he stressed the need for the sector to be rid of political appointees.
Meanwhile, Manager of the Scholarship Department, Syinka Gragon also testified before the Commission on Tuesday.
She said a proper system for transparency in the issuance of scholarships would be to return to the selection process involving a panel of interviewers external to the Public Service Department.
Ms. Gragon told the Commission that in the last few years, under the PPP government, all applications were sent to the Minister to be awarded.
The Public Service Commission of Inquiry (COI) was set up by President David Granger and is tasked mainly with is tasked with inquiring into, reporting on and making recommendations on the role, functions, recruitment, training, remuneration, conditions of service and other matters pertaining to personal employment in the Guyana Public Service
So far, the commission has received over 30 statements from stakeholders across Guyana, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Lutchman, on a previous occasion, made it clear that the COI was not a wages and salaries commission. He said the aim was to build a public service that would serve as an asset to the government of the day.
The Commission is also tasked with determining what measures should be taken to improve the efficiency of the public service and reviewing the methodology used in the classification and recruitment of public servants.
It will also review and examine the age of retirement of public servants and make recommendations in this regard.
The other commissioners are Sandra Jones, a Human Resource Management and Development Specialist and Samuel Goolsarran, a Consultant Adviser of the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry Ltd.
The Commission’s Secretary is former Magistrate Geeta Chandan Edmond.