Minister of the Public Service Henry Usher was a guest on The Morning Show today where he touched on several issues including reforms in and out of the public service. According to Usher there is a need to revisit the laws and regulations that govern public officers in order to achieve more efficiency that what is presently being experienced.
Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional & Political Reform: “The Ministry of the Public Service is like the wheel of government, everything turns through there. It’s the human resource department of the government so everything goes through this ministry when it comes to anything having to do with public officers, hirings, terminations, transfers, disciplinary measures all of those issues and they all come under the umbrella of the Public Service Regulations. So one of the first items we had to look at was the regulations and we had to see how we could improve those regulations. Because there are some sections that need updating, there are some sections that need amending and we are working along with the unions to make sure that we are on the same page with those regulations. As a matter of fact they had submitted some amendments to the regulations a few years ago but nothing was done with them so we will look at those suggestions from the unions, we will also look at the regulations on a whole and we hope that by doing this exercise we can make the regulations work more efficiently.”
Minister Usher went on to speak on the crucial role that the Public Services Commission plays in the public service. According to Usher the government is still finding it challenging to function smoothly as some members of the commission are refusing to resign or step down.
Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional & Political Reform: “The Public Service Commission plays a critical role in all of these situations having to do with public officers. They are the ones that look at disciplinary measures for instance, transfers, promotions, they look at all of those areas and you describe it as a stand off to me it’s not really a stand off. We found a situation where we had individuals in there that up to today are refusing to step down, we gave them the opportunity to step down. I mean persons of integrity should step down when the government changes they were appointed by the Governor General but upon the advice of the former prime minister, Section 107, 1 of the constitution. But Troy even before the elections in November we were hearing a lot of horror stories out of the Public Service Commission meaning that the body that was there, the persons that were there were looking at the request that went to them, how they felt, what they felt like, you know they looked at some they didn’t look at some. As a matter of fact right before the election they hurriedly called a meeting and they approved all kinds of promotions which we have all stopped because it was not done in the proper way. Some public officers described them as a cartel because you know they felt that there was no independence with the Public Service Commission so how could we continue with that body as currently composed ? When those individuals, the same public officers were telling us before November 11 this is not working we have our applications before them for so many months, they’re not responding to us some of them were not even showing up for meetings. The point is that we expected them to step down. As a matter of fact one of them did step down but the rest are refusing and we’re saying what’s your reason ? Are you trying to cloak self interest with the constitution ? Because it seems to be about self interest because if you notice the interview given last week by the Chairman his main gripe is that he has not received his stipend since November. We haven’t met so why would you receive a stipend? You know ? That seems to be the main gripe “that we have not gotten our stipend since November.”
Troy Gabb, Host, The Morning Show: Is the stipend public knowledge ?
Hon. Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional & Political Reform: “No it’s not public knowledge but the point is you seem to be more concerned about a stipend than actually doing the work. Man with all of that situation we can’t continue with them and the constitution is very clear Rene 107, 1 the members of the Public Service Commission are appointed by the Governor General upon the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition not by the previous Prime Minister the Prime Minister and who is the Prime Minister of Belize? The Honorable John Briceno. So I appeal again to the commissioners, the chairman, just be persons of integrity and step down because your point about saying that it would be unconstitutional for them to step down is absolutely false.”