PORT OF SPAIN, NOVEMBER 04, 2014: Public Administration Minister, the Honourable Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, says Government is not interfering in the recruitment and selection of individuals for permanent (established and pensionable) positions in the Public Service, which, according to the law, has been, still is – and will always remain – the remit of the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The Minister was responding directly to comments by Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley that “Government is trespassing on the authority of the Public Service Commission”, over a Cabinet Note dated 4th September.
She says contrary to Dr. Rowley’s claims, Government is not breaking the law, and continues to uphold and respect the remit of the Public Service Commission for the recruitment, selection and appointment of personnel to established, pensionable positions in the Public Service.
Minister Seepersad-Bachan explained that the Cabinet Note in question deals with the Introduction of a Clerical, Secretarial and Office Support Relief Programme, and not on filling established positions in the Public Service.
Minister Seepersad-Bachan says what is actually taking place, is the modernising of the Service itself.
“There are many positions in the Public Service, still on the books, which are no longer relevant. For that reason, many Ministries have begun suppressing these positions,” she explains.
Modernising the Service would require re-engineering, and those posts which are no longer relevant would need to be phased out, while new posts will be created to reflect the realities and demands of the 21st century citizen-centric Public Service workplace.
“The creation of modern jobs is producing new openings for people to enter the public service,” she says, “as well as those people in the service who have taken the opportunity to improve themselves,. This is a new pool from which new public officers could be drawn. In fact,” the Minister asserts, “forty-nine (49) new job descriptions and designations have been developed at the middle management level in the Public Service. This opens the door for more employment opportunities for professionals wishing to be part of the new Public Service, particularly in the areas of Information and Communication Technology, Monitoring and Evaluation, Communications, Project Management, Procurement and Facilities Management.”
“All these new jobs have gone to the Personnel Department for the determination of their salary ranges (classification), and these jobs will become pensionable as soon as this exercise is completed,” the Minister reveals. “This means hundreds of new, permanent jobs in the Service will become available across all Government Ministries. At present, many of these new jobs are available only via contract,” the Minister explains. “Our intention is to have these contract positions replaced by pensionable, established positions. The contract positions are ‘untenable’, and that is why we are working assiduously to create new, professional, pensionable positions in the Service.”
The Minister notes there has been a redesigning of job specifications at the Clerical and Manipulative levels.
“We have created the position of Driver / Courier, whose duties also would include the performance of certain office support functions,” the Minister points out. “Also, several clerical / secretarial positions have been redesigned and classified in the new Management Support Series or MSS.”
“The Management Support Series is critical to the new Public Service structure,” the Minister says. “These officers possess the skills and capabilities needed for the 21st Century Public Service: technology-savvy individuals who can multi-task, with a strong customer service orientation and project management skills, and who are empowered to take decisions that can help citizens resolve their matters quickly.”
The Minister adds: “It should be noted that those public servants already in the existing established positions have an opportunity either to stay and retire in these positions, or avail themselves of the new posts being created.”
This new stream comprises Management Support Officer I and II (MSO I and MSO II), and Management Support Coordinator (MSC), which were approved by Cabinet in 2012. These new jobs were created to replace the Clerical/Secretarial positions in the Public Service, including the Clerk-Stenographer I and II and the Clerk-Typist I and II, among others. As of this year, the salary ranges for the MS Series have been approved by both the Personnel Department and the Minister of Finance.
Minister Seepersad-Bachan revealed that the Public Service Commission itself is awaiting the opportunity to start advertising officially these new jobs in the MS Series, so that citizens can begin applying for same. She stresses that this exercise of creating new streams is in no way jeopardising the independence of the PSC. She says all that remains now is final agreement from the Public Service Association on the classification of the MS positions.
The Minister explains that the Cabinet Note of 4th September, 2014, provides for interim arrangements until positions in new established streams are fully activated.
Both the Ministry and the Public Service Association agree that the Service Commissions Department needs to be modernised, to build capacity to deal with the demands of modern best practices for the selection and recruitment of the 21st century public officer. To this end, the Public Administration Ministry will be facilitating several institutional strengthening exercises and initiatives for both the Service Commissions Department and the Personnel Department, as they seek to re-engineer themselves, in order to remain relevant in the world of the modern workplace and 21st century Public Service.
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