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Deep look at the Public Service

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell – has made a few cosmetic changes in the ranks of the Permanent Secretaries since coming to office 21 months ago

A former Permanent Secretary in Grenada in the 1990’s has raised concerns about the quality of persons who have been appointed to some of the top positions in the Public Service in recent years.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY on Thursday, the ex-public servant expressed doubts that some of the persons holding positions as Permanent Secretaries understand their role in the system.

He cited the case of the ongoing problem of late payment to some public officers following the decision of the nearly two-year old Congress government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to start bi-monthly payment of salaries in the public service.

He said it is the PS in every Line Ministry and not the Accounts Officer who are the real Accounting officers.

“When there is a complaint on a Finance Officer on late payment of salaries, it is the responsibility of the PS to deal with the situation as they’re the Chief Accounting Officer for the ministry,” he added.

According to the retired senior public officer, the current lot of Permanent Secretaries need to look at the Public Service rule to understand their own role in the system.

He charged that the late payment issue has not been resolved and is taking place from time to time.

“The problem is still going on because you have Finance Officers who are demotivated, the information is not coming to them in a timely manner and even when the information comes to them, they take their good ole time because nobody stays on top of them….,” he said.

The ex-PS stated that those persons now holding PS rank in the Dickon Mitchell-led government need to “speak to the Supervisor and say I want this thing (the processing of the salaries to be sent to the Treasury) done by X time.”

He pointed out that most of the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries in the service do not understand their role and are not seeing themselves as the responsible officer in their own ministry.

He stressed that retired Permanent Secretary Pamela Steele and others in her era fully understood the process and the system and knew “exactly what the Middle Managers and Lower Officers in the service are doing at any given moment.

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In addition, he said that a lot of persons who became PS in his time came through the ranks and were able “to gain experience over the years.”

According to the retired PS, he is getting the feeling that some persons study and end up with a Degree and because of friendship end up in the top positions in some of the government ministries.

He said that some of the persons who are currently holding these positions “are not PS material” by no stretch of the imagination.

He also indicated that there is now a trend to fast-track some persons into the rank of PS who lack experience and over the years worked in just one or two areas in the public service and “have no institutional knowledge” of other areas of the public service.

He questioned how these people could “provide sound advice to the Minister” when they lack experience.

The ex-PS quoted a top aide close to current Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell who expressed fears that the new Grenadian leader might not be getting the right advice from some of the persons around him as they do not want “to rock the boat” but remain in their position of influence.

“They don’t want to tell the man (PM Dickon Mitchell) nothing because some of them men want certain positions and want their friends to be in certain positions so they don’t want to upset the applecart,” he said.

According to the ex-senior public officer, it is this kind of attitude and behavior that can easily cause the demise of the NDC government in office.

He warned that the Congress government is at “a critical stage” of its tenure in office and some people who want to see it remain in office need “to speak truth to power” because anything else could create the conditions in the country for a return of the defeated Keith Mitchell and his New National Party ( NNP) regime.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has until 2027 to call fresh elections in Grenada.

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