Earlier we mentioned that Minister Hulse stated his support to having sanctions placed against public officers who have committed illegal wrongdoing. Throughout the course of the hearings, the Committee has placed the question to members of the executive of the Ministry of Immigration who have appeared before them. When asked, Minister Hulse did not shy away from the question and added that cases, where public officers had been accused but reinstated to their positions, is detrimental to the process of reform within the ministry.
“It’s not an easy process because it requires preparing a proper case. People are subject to legal representation when they go before the commission etcetera. I don’t know the details, very ins, and outs of how the commission functions. As I said, I never was, I was not allowed to sit in, even, because that is what I wanted to see. My position is, however, is that any wrongdoing in the public service by persons who know they have done wrong, that you can identify, there has to be some recourse. There has to be some process that that person has to be held responsible. The sad thing is in the case of the three people we took before the commission, those people were sent back and reinstated and paid. I think they were on half pay and now reinstated with full pay gives the wrong signal to the entire public service, destroyed the confidence in the department because everybody in the department, for the most part, knew that something terribly went wrong and that is where I have a difficulty. How we fix it? That is for the entire assembly to sit and discourse how we deal with public sector matters at this level.”
Senator Mark Lizarraga
“Minister but with the greatest of respect, you are a member of Cabinet now; obviously it would have to be an issue.”
“Yes, it is an issue. Cabinet has discussed it over and over but the Public Service Union is a constitutionally formed body with full autonomy and authority and not subject to the direction of anybody except the Commission that has been appointed and the Commission is a broad-based commission. It’s not a government commission alone.”
“But it’s subject to the Laws of Belize Minister and we have not seen any laws coming to this honorable house to try and strengthen or fix those systems which you are aware are broken or wrong.”
Minister Godwin Hulse
“But as I said the commission is a constitutionally established body. It is a broad sector, not only government people are on it. It is Independent, it has a Chair, it has people appointed by both sides of the parliament and cases go before the commission. It is that firewall that insulates public officers from the very criticism that have been levied over the years of political operatives haul and pulling the public service etc. and it creates that firewall so that the very firewall that we are investigating where if a Minister went to somebody and said, do this nationality and the person said No and the minister said, oh well we’ll fire you, it is to prevent that very kind of thing. In fact that firewall exists, the public officer comes under the CE, come under their directors and if there is an issue, they are taken before the Public Service Commission by those people. It completely cuts off the political directorate. The political directorate is policy and laws and I hear you that no law has come to strengthen it but what law does strengthen it; its’ a function of that commission doing its proper work, to my mind.”