Protect civil servants
November 7, 2011
In your October 28, 2011 edition you quote the Auditor General saying that “The Government’s Financial Instructions are and always have been clear” and that Marc Telemaque as Permanent Secretary to Tourist Minister Dr. Browne had failed to comply with these when on April 3, 2007 he instructed Tourist Department officials to arrange to give Andre Curtis money and “mock up a contract of sorts to make this happen yesterday”. Marc Telemaque had the responsibility to advise the Minister that carrying out his instructions would violate Government Financial Instructions but if the Minister instructed him to do it anyway he as a civil servant would have to obey. The Auditor General should be directing her criticism at the Minister rather than the civil servant.
The Constitution provides that no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund except upon the authority of Finance Minister Paula Cox and when Tourist Department officials instructed the Accountant General to pay money to Andre Curtis the Accountant General told the Finance Minister that doing this would violate Government Financial Instructions. When she insisted that he do it anyway he had no alternative but to obey.
In your edition dated November 3, 2011 you printed an excellent letter from Ms Pat Ferguson in which she commended the civil servant who leaked the information that the Minister of Works & Engineering had overruled the Building Specifications and the staff of his Department by getting the lighting for Global House supplied by a friend of his who installed inferior lighting which had to be ripped out and replaced. I agree with her that it is good that there was a leak.
I also agree with her that if more civil servants were willing to leak information we would be appalled at what has gone on in our Government. The problem is the Ministers and not the civil servants. If any civil servant responsible for a leak is identified he will be branded disloyal and fired by the Minister.
Our Constitution provides for a Public Service Commission comprising a Chairman and four other members appointed by the Governor and its responsibility it is to protect civil servants from Ministerial abuse of executive powers. The Auditor says civil servants don’t have the fortitude to mete out penalties for non-compliance with her Government Financial Instructions but what she should do is amend the Instructions to empower civil servants when ordered by a Minister to do something improper to say: “I think you are asking me to do something which violates Government Financial Instructions and I will not act until I get the opinion of the Public Service Commission.”
About the Throne Speech it seems to be a list of more things for the Government to do with more people being hired by Government to do them. This may help unemployment but will increase Government expenditure and the national debt. What Government should be doing is the exact opposite to what they propose.
WILLIAM M COX