BoI’s probe into arbitrary firing of PSM staff delayed
…Public Service Minister was out of country hence delay in process – Harmon
More than two weeks ago, a special Board of Inquiry (BoI) was commissioned by President David Granger to probe the arbitrary firing of staff at the Public Service Ministry by Minister Tabitha Sarabo-Halley but to date, no real groundwork has been done.
Seasoned Human Resources practitioner, Lance Carberry was appointed by the Administration to investigate the dismissal of the three employees in June.
Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon on Sunday told Guyana Times that investigations into the matter did not commence at the expected starting time since the Minister in question was out of the jurisdiction.
“The probe is ongoing; the case would have started the week before but they had to push it back. Well, they had to push it to this week because the Minister was out of the country, so it has officially started now. I think within two weeks we would be able to give you an update, we will give them [investigators] two weeks,” he stated.
Meanwhile, over two weeks ago, State Minister, Dawn Hastings-Williams said the President had directed that the BoI be commissioned to investigate the allegations of misconduct, corruption and improper behaviour against named public servants within the Department of Public Service.
The State Minister noted that the investigation would be done in a fair and professional manner and expressed confidence that an unbiased report will be presented to the Government. However, she said it is important that witnesses co-operate with the Chairman of the Board and be open and honest in their interaction.
On May 31, 2019, the personnel staff and chief accountant at the Public Service Ministry were sent packing by Minister Tabitha Sarabo-Halley shortly after she was appointed to that post.
The three workers were all on contractual employment with the Government.
When the news broke about the arbitrary firing of those staffers, the Government had initially denied firing them but one week after this, Harmon had confirmed that indeed, the workers were sent home while adding that an investigation has been launched into the incident.
At that time, Harmon, however, told Guyana Times during a telephone interview that the termination letters were rescinded and that the workers are now on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
He had maintained that the staff in question are still employees of the Government as the decision by Minister Sarabo-Halley to terminate their services has been halted.
Following the revelation, Deputy Director of Press Affairs at the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP), Ariana Gordon told sections of the media that while allegations have been levelled against the public service employees, they were not dismissed.
However, shortly after, a document seen by this publication proved otherwise. A “Determination of Contract” letter signed by the Minister in question was addressed to a staff member stating that his services will no longer be required.
“Pursuant to the aforesaid contract of employment, your services are hereby terminated with immediate effect”, the letter stated.
Several staff members were said to have also received similar letters. Employees who have been removed were called PPP “moles” by political activist David Hinds, who is said to have a close relationship with the subject Minister. Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had alluded to the fact that those workers were initially targeted and arbitrarily dismissed by Minister Sarabo-Halley after he blew the whistle on transactions at the Ministry of the Presidency which he claims saw the children of a Government Minister receiving payments amounting to over $20 million in the last two years.
One of those revelations is that the children of a senior Minister allegedly received over US$86,000 in 2018, monies that were transferred from the Department of Public Service. Then again, this year, another transfer of millions reportedly took place.
“In 2019, another child of that Minister got transferred from the same Office of the President, the Ministry of the Presidency, Public Service Division, $2,510,575. So combined, over $20 million because the other one was over $17 million – over $20 million…this is taxpayers’ money and clearly, we need an explanation, let the country decide if the explanation is a plausible one. So, we have been asking for an explanation and guess what? Silence from the Ministry of the Presidency and silence from the Minister, a person who is very, very vocal on other matters, it’s silence.”
According to the Opposition Leader, the Public Service Minister rushed to illegally fire all the staff in the department that had access to this information since the Government believes that those fired workers had sent information to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).