– former Army official takes charge
Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), James Singh has been sent on leave, while retired Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Major General Michael Atherly has been appointed to act in his absence.
Government, through Minister of State, Joseph Harmon made the announcement on Wednesday, but Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan told Guyana Times that the CANU Head needed to take his accumulated annual leave.
“He’s on his annual leave and just like the Commissioner is on his annual leave. He is entitled to about two months’ leave and we are asking people to take their leave,” Ramjattan told this newspaper.
Atherly, who is head of the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA), will also be heading CANU during the period. Ramjattan said there was a deputy at CANU who would also help in the administration of the Unit in the absence of Singh.
Minister Harmon on Wednesday said that in line with Government’s policy to ensure that officers did not accumulate annual leave and in turn request pay in lieu, Singh has been asked to proceed on leave effective March 1.
“This is the practice that we have embraced since we came into office and, therefore, Mr Singh, who had some leave accumulated, has been asked to go on leave with effect from today and Major General Michael Atherly will be heading CANU,” Harmon said in a release.
He said this has been communicated to the Public Security Ministry, under whose remit CANU fell.
According to Harmon, public officers have always been encouraged to take their leave and “we want to discourage this practice of accumulating large amounts of leave and then asking for payment in lieu. So we are trying to ensure that all public officers get their leave during that year,” Minister Harmon said.
Major General (ret’d) Atherly was responsible for leading the review of the National Drug Strategy Master Plan 2014-2018. This review led to the development of the National Drug Strategy Master Plan 2016-2020, which was launched last December.