Govt defends decision as PPP predicts recipe for disaster

Delinking environment from Natural Resources Ministry

Government is defending its decision to establish a separate department with responsibility for the environment while the parliamentary Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) predicts disaster.

State Minister Joseph Harmon
State Minister Joseph Harmon

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, chairing this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing, disclosed that the move to remove overview of the environment sector from the Natural Resources Ministry was to lessen the responsibilities which lie on the shoulders of the subject Minister Raphael Trotman.
He explained that in so doing, it will alleviate potential conflicts which often existed between the simultaneous management of the extractive industries and the environment.
In this vein, President David Granger made the decision to have responsibility of the environment be handed over to a Department of the Environment under the Ministry of the Presidency, since a number of environmental areas, including the Office of Climate Change, are already there.
Prompted for a comment on this development, PPP/C Chief Whip and Executive Member Gail Teixeira laughed at the apparent indecisiveness of the Government in outlining how it wants its ministries to function.
Making reference to the many changes in Ministries and transfers of Ministers since the coalition’s assumption to office, Teixeira sarcastically declared that the reigning confusion was making it challenging to keep track of who was responsible for which sector of the country.
On a more serious note, however, she explained that these constant changes are a demonstration of ineptitude and an undermining of the public service.
“They (public servants) like to know where they are, they like to know their supervisors, they like continuity, they don’t like that one morning you wake up and you are with this minister, the next morning you wake up and you’re with another minister and then suddenly you are moving back; you then find yourself making arrangements to move to another building and then suddenly you moving back to another building. This is a recipe for disaster in a public service,” she stated.
Teixeira added that the situation could also arise where important files go missing as a result of the numerous moves.
Furthermore, former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall pointed out that this move will result in financial chaos in the accounting system.
“Because we had a national budget where the National Assembly approves line items situated under a particular ministry and now it is cut in half or quarter and transferred over…there are financial implications on how they will account for the money and without parliamentary scrutiny. That is why these abrupt changes are minimised because it leads to mismanagement,” he explained.