Burke Concerned About Intimidation Of Public Officers

Burke Concerned About Intimidation Of Public Officers

Intimidation and bullying of civil servants and the arbitrary and high handed transferring of public officers by those who run the country, can only lead to the demise and diminishing effectiveness of the civil service.

The National Democratic Congress’ Party Leader, Senator V. Nazim Burke, says reports of victimization within the public service are very worrying and cannot be in the best interest of the country.

Burke said reports reaching him indicate that former head of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Pest Management Unit, Paul Graham was recently blasted by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell at a meeting for voicing a professional concern.

He said the prime Minister was reported to be beating his chest, pounding his chest and making it clear that the buck stops with him. He added that the ministry staff was shocked and surprised by the behaviour of Dr. Mitchell, who could not believe that the prime minister was acting in that manner.

The NDC leader said he was also advised that certain ministers of government would go around ministries announcing that certain public servants would have to go and demanding that the relevant permanent secretaries “get them out of here”.

He said among the persons who were targets of these outbursts were; Paul Graham himself, Chief Fisheries Officer Justin Rennie and Fisheries Officer Roland Baldeo.

Incidentally these officers were recently transferred; Mr. Graham from his position as Chief Pest Management Officer, Mr. Rennie as Chief Fisheries Officer and Mr. Baldeo from a senior position in the fisheries department.

Burke added that in the case of Rennie and Baldeo it has been reported that the police were even sent to search their homes.

The NDC leader said if these reports turn out to be true, they are very serious developments and mark a significant departure from the norms of the service. He said it also rings an alarming bell from the 1970’s and nobody wants such a situation in the country today.

He said based on the constitution, officers of the public service are answerable to the Public Service Commission and no minister of government has the responsibility to hire, fire or discipline workers. These powers all rest with the PSC.

Burke said orders couldn’t be issued by the Department of Public Administration to punish, intimidate or threaten workers without reporting any complaint to the PSC with respect to that worker.

He said if this is in fact happening it will affect the ability of public workers to do their jobs and as far as the party is concerned, public workers must be allowed to do their jobs in peace.

He called on the authorities to investigate the reports and if in fact workers are being bullied, frightened or threatened, this must immediately come to an end.

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