The Frustration of Running a Government Entity

Submitted by Roslyn Stanherd

The Public Service (Appointments) Act 2020 has passed and appointments are being made across the public service and I assume statutory bodies. Like Michelle M. Russell in her article ‘Good move for Public servants’ in the Sunday Sun of 4 October 2020, I too am concerned about section 6(1) of the Public Service Act which makes certain employees ineligible for appointment in that I believe it can be punitive. Though it is not a situation I now face, it forms a thread in my work history and is the final catalyst that caused the offering of details about my move to retirement.

Micromanagement at my former work place resulted in my raising concerns about the tone on top with my final position being offense is taken not given. Suspension was swift with the charge that I was undermining the Committee. It took two (2) years to offer evidence of the same. Rather than follow through with what is known to be a long process, I accepted early pension and gratuity whose receipt was dependent on my signing a release not to sue the Committee. This Committee had had to abort the first meeting after being told it could not be both prosecutor and judge. The accusations are as follows:

  1. You abused your position as a regular attendee at the meetings of the Committee, and as such, a person privy to its deliberations, to disseminate by email to all staff of the Committee, misinformation of a serious nature which was calculated to undermine or likely to undermine, the authority of the Committee.

…As the Head who reported directly to the Committee, my job was to manage the entity. The Secretary in Attendance only disseminated information from the Committee meetings. My email spoke ONLY to my limitations about managing the same.

  1. That your action at that time was the most recent in a series of actions which demonstrate your disrespect for, and complete disregard of, the authority of the Committee. The investigation revealed:
    1. That between…. you brought in general circulation, for spending $M in matured securities without notice to the Committee and without regard for the Committee’s statutory responsible to re-invest securities for the proper maintenance and management of the investment portfolio. The amount comprised approximately 2/3 of investments, thereby compromising the Committee’s ability to properly discharge its statutory mandate.

…The Finance Manager’s projections showed that the entity’s inability to sell its government instrument on the secondary market meant even with the matured securities, there was insufficient funds to meet expected demand. In keeping with standard operating procedure, matured investments were kept to meet demand as the Committee explored means of sourcing additional funds.

  1. That, over time, you have undertaken the recruitment of persons to fill key staff positions, including the hiring of a temporary Legal Officer in the latter part of … without the approval of, or even notice to, the Committee. Further, having been instructed by the Committee, at its meeting, that future staffing issues should be brought to the attention of the Committee, or to the Chairman in situations of urgency, you sought recourse outside of the Committee, … without further reference to the Committee, in circumstances where you were not in agreement with the Committee’s decision on staffing matters, made in your presence, at the meeting of…

…Prior to the Committee’s changed position, precedent allowed the Head of the entity who was also the Personnel Officer to hire temporary staff without prior recourse to the Committee. The urgency to acquire the services of Legal officer resulted from the expansive change in the entity’s scope of operations, the unprecedented demand for loans during the peak loan demand period and the incumbent’s extended leave.

… In the midst of an expanded mandate the Committee was now reverting to operating as a public service entity. Guidance was necessary. The decision to seek the same from the first person to ever guide my management of this entity as well as to inform the Committee of the same was not ultra vires.

  1. That the tone of your correspondence to, and interaction with, the Committee and your conduct at Committee meetings are far from respectful, or professional, which was drawn to your attention in a letter to you, from the Committee on … Despite the Committee’s representations, you persisted with this conduct to such a degree to warrant a reminder from the Chairman at the Meeting of the Committee on …, that you should amend your behavior.

…The written reprimand was outside of the one (1) year band that counts towards the three (3) strike grievance procedure. What is ignored here was that a) the Committee members had minimal if any finance/banking knowledge/experience and their comfort zone was to focused on the minutiae attached to procedures rather than on policy; b) members blanked concerns and requests for guidance opting instead to confer with juniors; c) I was exhausted from managing several structural changes as Head as well as Personnel Officer, Personal Assistant/Secretary, and at a point in time as sole manager along with overseeing the completion of 15 audited financial statements; d) there had been a reversal of the entities fortune; e) the entity was well managed as reported to the Committee during its monthly meetings; and f) there was no defalcation.

  1. That your less than professional attitude has proven to be disruptive of the day-to-day operations of the Committee. By your own admission, you have clashed with almost every staff member of the … and, in …, for the protection of the operations of the entity and the Committee, the intervention of the Committee was required to manage a breakdown in the communication flow between yourself and the Internal Auditor, who had been deliberately excluded by you from the operational meetings, and thereby cut off from access to information crucial to the smooth running of the entity.

… I functioned as Human Resource Officer which required coaching and counselling staff members, ensuring their work targets were fair and their quarterly performance appraisals were completed in a timely fashion with an absent of rancour. My focus to remove the ‘passing of the buck’ mentality meant I clashed with most staff members but no one is indispensable so my plan was for a smooth succession which happened. Hence staff members worked in different sections of the entity, were supported via training and studies and in all instances encouraged to enhance their skills.

… Internal Auditors do not participate in operational activities which they audit.

Despite the debacle surrounding the ending of my tenure, I sought to maintain respect for my superiors by not voicing/showing their overt victimization. I am sure my actions disappointed my representative. It was not cowardice on my part but the reality that one might lose one’s sanity and money dealing with a clique that enjoyed bullying and revelled in the minutiae.

I was also bored with the matter, wanted and found new interest dealing with lawyers which is another story to tell.

To Serve with Love

Every time Barbados enters an election period the quote attributed to the late John F. Kennedy (JFK) comes to mind – “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country“. It is said that droves of young people offered themselves for public service as a result of Kennedy glamourizing what the blogmaster considers to be the ultimate act of selflessness – offering oneself to serve the people.

As a young boy growing up starry eyed under the Bajan flag in the post 1966 period, we were inspired by that generation of Barbadian who inculcated values which aligned with the Kennedy quote. We lived at a time social centres were a hive of activity for sport, assisting with teaching skills to residents in the locale, hosting limes and many other community building activities. Most if not all so-called community practitioners were to be found a dime a dozen.

It was close to mandatory for young boys and girls to be members of the 4H Club, Boys Scouts, Girls Guide, YMCA and the numerous other civic non profit associations which all combined to foster requite skills to prepare us for future leadership roles. These types of engagements have not totally disappeared from the landscape of Barbados but one senses there is a relationship between non interest being shown by citizens in community and non profit associations and a diminishing attitude and focus in nation building behaviour.

We have concentrated and allocated billions of the national budget to growing a paper-middleclass in the last three or four decades. The consequence of which has been the emergence of a strident political directorate more concerned with feathering the nest by securing everything financial at the expense of serving with love. This is the root cause of the societal decay we continue to witness on the tiny island of Barbados in 2020. Unfortunately a scan outside of the local orb reveals that this is a universal trend.

Perhaps it is a simplistic view but the blogmaster argues that because of our small size and heavy investment in educating our people in the last 40 years – to the doom and gloomers nothing is perfect – we should be able to offer a better defence to protect from alien customs that have compromised the Barbados model we use to be admired.

We look to politicians moulded from a dysfunctional social system and wonder why things are not changing for the better. Successive governments continue to rollout policies that encourage conspicuous consumption habits, allow rampant undisciplined behaviour at the level of the individual and household, embrace all things foreign and then we wonder why has the Barbadiana brand faded. In a world where globalization is the new way, it is inevitable we will have to manage a level of multiculturalism entering our space. However, we cannot allow it to be dominant to the extent it subsumes homegrown customs which define who we prefer to be as a people.

To return to the community model on an island that measures 166 square miles cannot be too hard. Having 200,000 motors cars, mobile phones and an illegal gun in too many homes should not define who we want to be. What has to define us is our ability to cut and contrive, to assist our neighbour in times of stress, for each citizen to understand roles and responsibilities towards making Barbados the best country on the planet..feel free to add to the list. In other words we cannot leave any man, woman or child behind. An egalitarian society is idealistic but we need to strive for it.

Lastly for those offering themselves for political office to be always mindful of what JFK said – “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country

The Grenville Phillips Column – Of Tooth and Tongue

Our detractors keep insisting that we should stop writing about the ISO 9001 international management standard, because the public is generally unaware of it. Only in the politically partisan world does one stop educating the public about benefits that they do not yet understand. Only in that world are proven failed initiatives promoted, while proven successful ones are rejected.

That the public is uneducated about the ISO 9001 management standard is an indictment of the established press, who ignored it in favour of failed management initiatives.

The Public Sector Reform initiative was created with fatal flaws. Every year, it failed to improve public services. Yet every year it was promoted and funded. The National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE) was also created with fatal flaws. Every year it proved to be a failure, and every year it was promoted and funded.

The judiciary is a national disgrace, and the CCJ keeps reminding us that it is a regional embarrassment. Rather than implementing the ISO system and actually manage the judicial system properly, we have, for the past decade, been talking about implementing some form of mediation and other initiatives.

The government is now ignoring the Public Sector Reform, closing the NISE and the Productivity Council, and embarking on a new management initiative that can best be described as ‘Management by Talking’. However, it is the same failed management approach that we have been trying for the past 4 decades. Its direct opposite is the ISO approach of ‘Management by Doing’.

The BLP’s propaganda directive is to keep repeating the phrase ‘lost decade’ in reference to the DLP’s obvious mismanagement of the economy. However, it is more accurate to speak of a lost two decades, with one decade being managed by the BLP and the other by the DLP. We should remember that it was approximately 20 years ago when the BLP structurally damaged Barbados’ economy.

The established media appear to have received their orders to ignore this and other facts unfavourable to the BLP. Therefore, the public is generally unaware that there is little difference between the level of gross mismanagement by the BLP and the DLP. By our detractors’ reasoning, that is reason enough for us to stop mentioning it. For the record, a section from 13 Oct 2009 Moody’ report follows (capitalised emphasis mine).

“Barbados’ KEY DEBT INDICATORS have been on a deteriorating path OVER THE PAST DECADE, and are now at levels that compare poorly with other countries in the same rating category,” said Moody’s Vice President – Senior Analyst Alessandra Alecci. “While the global crisis has clearly exacerbated this trend, the worsening of debt indicators OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME suggests that structural issues are at play.” .. “These include a steady increase in expenditures, INCLUDING OFF-BUDGET, as revenues have remained at roughly the same level in terms of GDP.”

The political administration that led the government during the decade prior to 2009 was not the DLP. To my knowledge, Clyde Mascoll was the only person in Barbados who was warning us of these “off budget” corrupting no-bid contracts being awarded, and the increasing unsustainable debt. However, when he became a B, the BLP’s bad debts were somehow magically transformed into good debts and our watchdog economists conveniently lost both tooth and tongue – until the re-election of the DLP.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – A Fair Retrenchment

The impact of job loss is tremendous. The loss of a job is never easy, even if it is expectedUnexpected job loss has an even greater emotional impact on us…. For both men and women, job loss will reflect on our personal value. It may be argued that we put too much value on the external image of a job and not enough on the internal dignity of being a human being. Yet, it is hard to see or feel dignity when your source of income is removed. There is no simple solution; a job loss WILL cause stress. Many researchers rank the stress of job loss with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) found in combat.

Life Challenges Website

The corrosive effects of job loss on the individual, especially where that termination is at the initiative of the employer, are too well documented in the relevant literature to bear repetition. Since this phenomenon implicates the dignity and autonomy of the person, it is quite natural for the State to intervene in the process to ensure that fairness and justice prevail in so momentous an undertaking. It may thus be a useful analysis to compare the locally prescribed procedures for termination with those that obtain in the currently ongoing retrenchment in the public sector.

Mass retrenchment or redundancy as part of a restructuring of the workforce appears inevitable in a process of economic transformation. While our nobler instincts of people- centredness and social welfare considerations may demand that retrenchment be perceived as a last resort after all other alternatives have been explored, considered, analyzed and rejected, the law recognizes that there may be circumstances in which retrenchment of workers becomes the most effective option.

To this end, there are two parts to the stipulated process. First, that there must be agreement reached through good faith bargaining between the relevant parties, namely the workers’ organization or the individual employees and the employer of the need at all for the proposed retrenchment. And while it is accepted that the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 2012 do not bind the State qua employer, it still provides, in my opinion, cogent evidence of best practice in regard to the retrenchment process.

According to section 31 (1) of that statute, a dismissal is not to be considered unfair if it is owed to redundancy and the prescribed procedure has been followed. Insofar as liability to retrenchment is concerned, the analogous private sector requirement provides, where relevant, that redundancy of the employee arises “where the requirements of the business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind…have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish”.

Where the reduction in the workforce is anticipated to be significant, the employer is also expected to provide the employee, or workers’ organization where there is one, and the Chief Labour Officer with a written statement of the reasons for and the other particulars of the dismissal.

Sub-section 5 provides for what should be contained in the statement, including the facts supporting the situation of redundancy, the number and categories of employees likely to be affected and the period during which their dismissals are likely to be carried out.

As is the case with all collective employment, the employer is required to engage in good faith negotiation or consultation with the certified bargaining agent on behalf of the workers. The essence of the obligation is to negotiate in good faith, hopefully to reach agreement.

It is mandated that these consultations commence not later than six weeks before any terminations and that they be in respect of (i) the proposed method of selecting the employees who are to be dismissed; (ii) the proposed mode of carrying out the dismissals; and (iii) any measures that the employer may be able to take to find alternative employment for those who are to be dismissed and so mitigate for them the adverse effects of the dismissals. Provision is also made for the circumstance in which it is found impracticable to comply with the stipulation as to commencement of the consultations.

Of course, I am not at all privy as to the detailed circumstances in which the current retrenchments were carried out and it is acknowledged that the legislation referred to herein is not directly binding on that process, although as I have observed above, it might be indicative of best practice in this context, given its intendment to comport with principles of fairness of termination of employment. These embody a concept that is directed towards preserving the dignity and autonomy of the employee who, through no fault of his or her own, is forced to face the ineluctable stress that accompanies sudden joblessness.

Rigorous and faithful adherence to the statutory process by the relevant parties would have at least scotched any suggestions that the process was tainted by indirect gender discrimination through the selection of the class of stenographer/typists for retrenchment or that there was direct status discrimination through the selection of lower level employees only. It would have lain ill in the mouths of the workers’ organizations to condemn a process and its outcome in which they had fully participated and agreed to as prescribed.

Most jurisdictions provide for a terminal payment to those employees in the private sector who are dismissed for redundancy to tide them over the immediate consequences of job loss. The workers’ organizations would also have had a role to play in this calculation in light of their statutory entitlement to be consulted on a purposive interpretation of “any measures that the employer may be able to take to find alternative employment for those who are to be dismissed and so mitigate for them the adverse effects of the dismissals”.

There may arguably be legitimate questions raised as to the inequality of the bargaining power of the respective parties to the process and as to whether the retrenchment solution was entirely voluntary or whether it was mandated by circumstance or conditionality. These go the issue of governance on both sides of the equation and it would certainly be in the public interest if these concerns were promptly and openly addressed.

Smoke and Mirrors

Submitted by Observing

Every once in a while we are treated to a masterful display of “watch muh while I pull a rabbit out of my hat.” Our political culture and climate is no different. A peep at the mistress payslip after her much heralded 5% increase with only 5 months back pay that she hasn’t gotten yet reminded me of that phrase “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”. Let’s examine it for a second.

Salary increase
Public workers got 5% or an average of $140 – $400. BUT account for $45 increase in water, $56 average increase for a health levy and an average increase of $60-$70 in gas and one can see how that 5% disappears. Oh, and God help those with assessable income over 75,000. Apparently they are now taking home on average $90-$300 LESS this month AFTER the increase due to the increase in income tax. Someone said belly full but hungry? Watch muh.

Road Tax removal
Sweet we said. No more $450 or $900 road tax. BUT, 40c on every litre has revealed itself as an average monthly increase of $76 for a basic commuter. Think about the taxi operators, PSV operators, freighters, truckers, dumpers, transporters, retailers, bread and food vendors etc. etc and you can see that much more is being paid. Sure $450 at one time is alot, but I guess we can afford $800-$900 or more spread out over 12 months. Can’t we? Watch muh.

SSA off books
So, expenses for the SSA are no longer under transfers in the annual budget. Poof! Disappearing expenditure. BUT, they now collect from every household ($45) regardless of water usage (or not usage). Presto, every householder now pays for their own garbage collection regardless of frequency. $45 for 7 collections a week or $45 for 1 collection a week or $45 for non collections a week. Watch muh.

Foreign exchange stabilisation
The quarterly report was great. Foreign exchange stabilised. But hold a minute. We stopped repaying debts didn’t we? Well there ya go. To every householder that owes FastCash, Axcel, the Credit Union, Courts, Standards, Massy or God forbid the Government of Barbados, just follow the leader. Stop paying and renegotiate! Watch muh.

South Coast Sewage Fix
Priceless. Move the sewage from the road….pump it in the swamp….release it in the sea….close the beach……then blame the wells for not working. Watch muh

Reduced prices
Of course the removal of NSRL resulted in reduced prices, didn’t it? BUT, any good business man MUST pass on his increased transportation cost (fuel levy), increased water costs (50% of standard bill), increase in corporation tax (up to 30%), the employer contribution to the health levy (1.5% of each employee’s salary) and the compensation for profit margins (i.e. keep muh profits the same or higher no matter what). Of course we all know who these corporate level increases are passed on to! yes! We!!! Watch muh.

Increased tourism income
Without detail Barbados is perhaps the 2nd most expensive destination in the Caribbean. But, we have increased costs on virtually every aspect of tourism endeavour. I guess if 5% fewer visitors come but pay 10% more to get and stay here we can claim tourism is doing better. I guess. Watch muh.

Public input for privatisation and divestment
It’s always good to ask what people think and then do what you planned to any how. It’s even better when you have a survey monkey and a few New Unified Puppets Working with ya. Watch muh.

Less than 4000
Words, semantics, numbers, statistics. Po-ta-to, pota-to, To-ma-to, Toma-to. No more than 4000 workers will go home. Too bad for the 3,999 that are shaking in their boots. I could be wrong but this sounds like deja-vu

Anyhow, I was told to watch muh, so I will keep watching….and genuinely hoping it all works out. After all, um is all uh we!


Senator Caswell Franklyn Speaks – Oh No Mr. Alleyne! The Prime Minister has no Power to Breach the Constitution

My attention has been drawn to an article, “Power to the Prime Minister!” purportedly written by Ezra Alleyne, in the Sunday Sun of August 19, 2018.

Mr. Alleyne referred to an exchange between Senator Moe and me, in the Senate, about the appointment of a person to the post of Director of Communications by the Prime Minister.  I contended that the Prime Minister of Barbados has no power to appoint persons to public service posts.  Senator Moe disagreed on the point that the person was a consultant and not a public officer.  She went on to point out that all prime ministers of Barbados have so far appointed consultants.  Apparently, she does not understand that persons can legally be appointed on contract to public service posts but not by the Prime Minister.

I am not surprised that Mr. Alleyne weighed in on Senator Moe’s side but in doing so, he attempted to obfuscate the issue behind some nonsense about the first Prime Minister of England, Sir Robert Walpole, and all other British prime ministers since then appointing consultants.  While I can agree that prime ministers of Barbados can arrange to have their permanent secretaries hire consultants, on a contractual basis, I must point out that none of those consultants have ever been assigned to public service posts.

On Wednesday, August 15, 2018 the Senate debated and approved the Public Service (General) Order, 2018 that was made by the Prime Minister in her capacity as Minister with responsibility for the Public Service.  In addition to raising salaries by 5 percent that order, among other things: established offices in the Public Service; and determined the number of persons who may be appointed to those offices.  Under the head, “Prime Minister’s Office”, the Prime Minister established one post of Director of Communications.  That post is therefore a public office and as such, it is subject to section 94. (1) of the Constitution of Barbados, which states:

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, power to make appointments to public offices and to remove and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices is hereby vested in the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission.

It is my understanding that the person who occupies the post of Director of Communications is a non-national who was engaged by the Barbados Labour Party to interfere in the recent elections.  It is noteworthy that non-nationals who are alleged to have interfered in the 2016 United States elections have been indicted to stand trial.

My concern is that this present administration is attempting to further blur the line between constitutionally protected Public Service and party politics.

Mr.Alleyne closed his article by saying, “To the victor the spoils”.  I would like to point out to him, who fancies himself as a constitutional expert, that public service appointments are not part of the spoils of election victories in this country.  To my mind, Ms Mottley’s action, of appointing a director of communications, is an abuse of power that might very well be unconstitutional.  It reeks of the corruption that Solutions Barbados and the Barbados Labour Party campaigned against.

IF Mia Cares She Should Stop ‘Picking-on’ the Public Service!

Submitted by Charles Skeete

[Barbados Underground] There are enough unpaid taxes and debts due and owing to the Government which if vigorous efforts are made to collect would make the spectre of job losses avoidable and that should have been the first order of business on assuming office because there is no such thing as painless layoffs.

Whatever strategy is employed in relation to job cuts would as a consequence be painful to the jobless.

If the government cares and we are all in it together, the new government which has not really completed a work cycle to merit vacation pay should refrain from taking the increase if they really cared since it would not relate to their time in office but the previous administration who would more have a rightful claim.

They could also abolish temporarily or permanently the unnecessary perks given to senior public officers in Government and at statutory boards. They could even consider a Tom Adams like surcharge which would touch the entire workforce rather than penalize public servants all the time who make up a small portion of the economy.

What about those self employed persons who pay no taxes or NIS THEY SHOULD BE THE ones targeted and stop using the public service as a whipping boy just because they are on the system and easy to get at. The list of indebtedness to the Government is easy to compile. Get up off your asses and do some work and stop looking for the easy way out which is counter productive anyhow since our economy like a meeting turn depends on what is circulated and layoffs takes money out of circulation and stagnates the economy.

Belly Full, Still Hungry

Submitted by Mr. Anonymous

Overheard government MPs today shouting from the mountaintop about the 5% salary increase and how it will give “breakfast before the long journey.”

I just found out that because of the generous 5% salary increase graciously bestowed on me by my caring government that I will get an increment of $154. (I’m an extremely prosperous and affluent middle class worker at Z5 in the salary scale).

Finally I will be able to pay that minor $45 increase on my water bill without worry.

Clearly this will now let me pay that welcome 1% or ($52.80, Z5) in my Health Service Contribution starting October 1.

And yes! I am eternally thankful for the removal of $450 ($48/mth) in road tax. This means I can now fill my 42 litre tank 6 times a month at ONLY a MERE increase of $76.49 more than I would usually pay. (EY Budget Analysis page 10)

Again I say AMEN! My $154 increase COMFORTABLY takes care of my $45 water + $52.80 health + $76.49 gas increases. By the way, I applaud the conscientious and civic minded retailers for dropping their prices since the NSRL removal. My dollar is definitely stretching now!!!!

I have a colleague at the lower end of the scale who feels as good as me. After all, she’s now going to get $76 – $87 more a month to handle her business. Woo hooo!!!!

Lastly, all repects to Mr. MacDowall and Mrs. Moore. They have certainly served us well.

Why hold out for 15% or 23% with back pay when you can take 5% from April this year and 0% from before then???? Sweet!!!

Even sweeter is the fact that I get to keep my appointed job so I can console my temporary friends who are about to lose theirs with a scalpel rather than an axe. The scalpel will surely ease the pain.

My Prime Minister said it well – “We are not being profligate, but if you want people to embark on a long march then you have to make sure they don’t do it on an empty belly,” (Wigglesworth, R., June 5, 2018)

Brother Bob said it better though – “A belly full but them hungry” (Robert Nesta)

“A regular but anonymous blogger”

The George Brathwaite Column – Efficiency Without Job Cuts: Mia and the IMF

“Representative democracy is a messy means of translating collective desires into optimal levels of government service provision; the absence of referenda and direct forms of balloting for specific goods and services leads to an oversupply of government.” – (Howard A. Frank).

Forthright discussions on the state of Barbados’ economy, including criticisms on how it is being handled in contradistinction to how it was handled over the last (lost) decade, ought to be encouraged. The fact is, multiple views can prove useful in a small developing nation characterised by structural deficiencies, immense vulnerability to natural and man-made hazards, and the tendency for a population to resist change. Given the overwhelming mandate that has been given to Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the governing Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration, Barbados can ill-afford the luxury of uncritical adventurism at this time or in the immediate years to come.

Against that backdrop, the new Prime Minister has set in motion a pattern of governance that encourages ‘information sharing’ from government to the people and vice versa. Certainly, and as noted in other global jurisdictions, information sharing is about unlocking the many islands of information stores across government and to discover the value of that information … help ensure that information is available to the right people at the right time – providing governments at all levels with improved capacity to save lives, improve lives and to better protect the community.” With the new BLP government wanting to meet the expectations of its people, the expansion of national awareness by putting relevant information into the public domain for feedback – whether positive or negative is a welcomed path. People, as the key stakeholder in any construction of good governance, will demand that the information flow continues and is accurate.

Barbadians will surely insist that the Mottley-led administration legitimates the exercise of information sharing. This avenue is possible through legislation, and specifically through a Freedom of Information Act. The upside of an Act facilitating information sharing can somewhat equate to satisfaction for the public; it also shields the executive arm of government from allegations of unnecessary secrecy, stealth, hidden agendas and claims of maladministration. Against the numerous calls for transparency and accountability in government, coupled with fulfilling another manifesto pledge, the legislative formality coupled with the present actions of a communicative administration will likely gain favourable respect across political boundaries. Indeed, the early evidence from the current administration is a confidence booster, and it helps to rebuild the trust that had been badly dented between the governing and the governed during the period after 2010.

Focus turns to the vexing and recurring problematic of achieving efficiency and effectiveness in Barbados’ public service. Barbados’ public service has been in the limelight mostly for the wrong reasons. Most persons are aware that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has had missions in Barbados on the invitation of PM Mottley to see how best and in what ways the Fund can help in the Critical Mission as presented by the Mottley-led team. After its last visit, the IMF reported that despite “significant progress has been made” by the Government of less than two months, the next phase of fixes will require “reducing expenditures – notably by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public services, reducing government transfers to state-owned enterprises by reviewing user fees, exploring options for mergers, and providing stronger oversight.”

Undoubtedly, the workings of and the decisions made on the public service will continue to affect the daily lives of all Barbadians in one way or another. At this moment, one is compelled to ask: how does Barbados go about fixing problems regarding the size, cost, efficiency, and productivity levels of its public service? Of course, this is without having to do harm to thousands badly needing to maintain their employment. Before his elevation to be the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Mr Cleviston Haynes stated that: “The public sector budget currently exceeds $3 billion, prompting some to question whether we are getting value for money and whether services are being delivered efficiently.” Thus, another chasm in the prevailing circumstances would be: how best can the very concept of information sharing assist in the processes leading to an optimal public sector/service which will also usher in drastic improvements in the delivery of services?

Certainly, with the high debt and fiscal drag that has derailed the many efforts for economic growth, the Mia Mottley administration is challenged to be innovative, nimble, and to overcome the internal pressures to improve public sector performance and at the same time contain expenditure growth. On the face of it, there are factors such as Barbados’ ageing populations and increasing health care and pension costs that will add to the budgetary burdens. After all, the country is weighted down by the high levels of taxation and they are demanding that the Government be made more accountable for the things being done with taxpayers’ money. So that while encouragement can be given to those near retirement in the service to take an immediate package, one must still consider the financial costs and any skill deficits that could obtain.

It may matter that Barbados was not in the best position for empirically evaluating the work being done in the public service. The latest Auditor General Report indicates that a lack of ‘adequate resources’ and ‘operational autonomy’ have hampered the Auditor from performing the duties of the office. If anything, successive Auditor General Reports would concretise the number of abnormalities, wastage, and inadequate reporting that have taken root in Government Ministries, Departments, and in statutory bodies. Barbados must develop ways and means for enhancing the capacity of the public to demand and monitor the performances of its main and statutory departments.

Moreover, the problems of measuring and quantifying the benefits of services to the public must be able to withstand scrutiny with timeliness in reporting. Clearly, for there to be significant improvement of public service accountability, PM Mottley must reinforce the dilemma that Barbados now faces to those under her charge so that they would not go down the same disastrous road as previous administrations. The current Leader of the Opposition will of necessity have to isolate personal sentiments from the compulsion to act in the best interests of those without legitimate voice and presence.

Beyond the manner of occupying a place in parliament, the BLP administration must fast-track its emphasis on broadening and utilising electronic government (e-government). This e-government refers to government’s use of technology, particularly web-based internet applications to enhance the access to and delivery of government information and service to citizens, business partners, employees, other agencies, and government entities. In Antigua and Barbuda for example, e-government has had the effect of contributing to several cost and time savings thus being more conducive to the ease of doing business. More generally, the maximising of e-government increases the potential to help build better relationships between the government and the public by making interactions with citizens smoother, easier, and more efficient. Indeed, government agencies report using electronic commerce to improve core business operations and deliver information and services faster, cheaper, and to wider groups of customers. Quite naturally, ongoing training and retooling for efficiency within the public service would compliment the adjustments and reforms. So that instead of searching to find persons to join the unemployment roll, emphasis would be on matching skills and acumen to the public services to be delivered.

Barbados is challenged on reducing expenditures but with the application of political will and decisiveness, win-win situations can be achieved. It is even more meaningful that the current administration persists in information sharing so that the private sector and the trade unions are part of key decision-making bodies. The ‘social partnership’ must play a formative role in the solutions to existing problems in the public sector. Providing stronger oversight, as has been called for by the IMF, will be PM Mottley’s best held ‘wild card’ and should likely ease tensions going forward with the restructuring and reforms that must happen if Barbados is to become the best that it can be.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, and a political consultant.   Email:

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Buying Votes with Public Service Appointments

On the day dedicated to workers (May Day) news broke that 660 temporary workers have been appointed to the Public Service, within the past six months, with more than 300 additional appointments expected shortly.

Under normal circumstances, as a trade unionist representing public workers, I would be ecstatic on receipt of that news. But these are not normal circumstances and even though I am happy for the recipients, it is tinged with a bit of anger because of the way many of these workers have been treated over the years leading up to these appointments. As far as I am aware, some of these new appointees were employed as temporary officers before this administration took office in 2008.

From where I stand, this mad rush by the authorities to make these appointments seems to be a crass attempt to curry favour with public workers ahead of the general elections, and also to cement their supporters in secure public service jobs. Somehow, the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) believes that these appointments would translate into votes from grateful workers and their families. While I fully expect that their supporters would blindly support the DLP; I don’t believe that members of the ruling party could be so delusional to expect that uncommitted workers, who in many cases endured upward of ten years as temporary officers, to vote for them now.

By making these appointments and promising more, the DLP should not think that it is doing public workers any favours. Delaying these appointments for years meant that these workers could not get credit, to move on with their lives, because of their temporary status. Also, temporary officers pay two percent more in contributions than appointed officers to National Insurance. In effect, a temporary officer who earns $2,500 per month would pay an additional fifty dollars per month. (That could still have bought two chickens). Over ten years, by not appointing that worker as required by law, Government would have taken an additional $6,000 from his pay packet, while denying him any salary increases over that period.

To make matters worse, even if the appointments were backdated to comply with the law, and they were not, National Insurance would only refund that worker a mere $1,200.

It troubles me immensely to think that politicians would expect to be rewarded for allowing these appointments at this time. It bears repetition, they are not doing workers any favours. Section 13.(11) of the Public Service Act requires the authorities to fill permanent post within 12 months. It states:

No established office in the Public Service shall be allowed to remain vacant for a period of more than one year except

(a) permission to allow the vacancy is granted by the Governor-General on the advice of the Service Commission; or

(b) the office has been frozen by the Minister.

Despite this provision, the authorities continued to allow temporary officers to act in vacant established offices for ten or more years in some cases.

It is apt to point out, to those who think that appointing public officers en masse would redound to the benefit of the ruling party, that just prior to the 2008 elections, the Arthur administration passed legislation to ensure the automatic appointment of over 3,000 temporary officers. They lost.

There is another sinister aspect to these appointments, many of which appear to be done along partisan lines. Long-serving, competent and deserving officers are being overlooked for appointment or promotion is preference for person who identify as supporters of the DLP. In the event of a change of government, the DLP would have its supporters/minions in key areas either to disrupt or spy on any new administration.

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Beware of Prime Ministers Bearing Gifts

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

In my last column that was published on February 11, 2018, I was extremely critical of what I perceived to be Government’s attempt to gain political advantage by dangling the prospect of thousands of permanent appointments before temporary officers in the Public Service – The Caswell Franklyn Column – DLP Preparing to Fool Public Servants a Third Time..

Generally, the reactions to the article were favourable but I was taken aback by one temporary public officer who suggested to me that my comments might cause the Prime Minister to change his mind; and by so doing, those thousands of temporary officers would not get pensions. Those views clearly demonstrate a dire need for some type of formal induction for recruits to the Public Service. At present, persons, who are employed in the service, are just thrown in and left to find their way on their own. Today I would like to disabuse the minds of public officers from those uninformed views.

In order to eliminate political patronage in the appointment of civil servants, the first independent civil service commission was established in England in 1855. It was solely responsible for appointments and disciplinary control of civil servants.

This model was thought desirable for a newly independent Barbados. Consequently, the original 1966 Constitution did not provide a role for the Prime Minister in civil service appointments, below the level of permanent secretary. Section 94.(1) of the Constitution provides that the power to make appointments to public offices and to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices is vested in the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission.

Politicians found it hard to accept that their preference for a particular person to be appointed could be thwarted by unelected officials. As a result, the Constitution was amended to require the service commission to consult the Prime Minister on the appointments to the post of head of department, however styled. Unfortunately, that amendment, found at section 99.(2) has been misinterpreted to mean that the Prime Minister selects persons to become permanent secretaries, heads of department and their deputies.

Constitutionally, at least, the PM has no say in the appointment of other public officers. Mind you, I think that this point was lost on him when he signed the Public Service (General) Order, 2016 on October 21, 2016. It contained a provision at paragraph 10 where he deemed certain persons to have been appointed.

The persons preparing that order should have been aware of the case involving the former headmaster of the Lodge School, Aurelius Smith, where the court held:

Parliament has no power to deem persons to have been appointed to the public service because its members were not members of the Public Service Commission which was charged with advising the Governor-General on making appointments to public offices. As a result, section 65 of the Education Act, 1981 which purported to deem teachers to be public officers but had not been made by the process prescribed by section 49 of the Constitution for altering the Constitution was invalid.

Similarly, the PM is not a member of the service commission nor is he Governor-General and can therefore make no appointments to the Public Service. Any person who was deemed appointed by the PM could one day find that his appointment is declared to be invalid.

The question of temporary officers being denied pensions, even though they would have completed the qualifying number of years, has already been settled since 1998. Prior to 1998, a temporary public officer was not entitled to receive a pension from the Treasury. However, the Pensions Act was amended by adding a new section 2A which states:

This Act applies, with the necessary modifications, to a person who holds an office that is not established under section 2 of the Civil Establishment Act, Cap 21, and who

(a) is employed on a full-time basis; and

(b) is not employed on a contractual basis,

as it applies to an officer who holds an office established under that Act.

Put simply, non appointment is no longed a bar to public servants from receiving pensions from the Treasury.

Anyone familiar with the story of Helen of Troy would be aware and understand the admonition: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”. Likewise, temporary public officers should be beware of Prime Ministers bearing gifts.

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Government Turns a Blind Eye to Endemic Corruption in the Public Service

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

This week I planned to write about the much vaunted Public Service Act (PSA) that has failed miserably to live up to its billing about improving the operations of the Public Service. But before I do, please allow me to take a detour to address something that has affected me personally.

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017 I was at home relaxing and my phones started to ring off the hook. Several callers alerted me to a debate that was going on in the House of Assembly, where some reference was made about me. Even though my name was not mentioned by the particular member of parliament, he was so explicit that several persons were able to identify me.

I will not go into specifics, other than to say that the remarks were untrue. But I will say that persons, speaking from the floor of the House of Assembly, should not use that forum to falsely attribute things to private citizens, who do not have the right to reply before the same audience.

In accordance with the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act, members of parliament cannot be sued for anything they say in the House. That privilege should not be abused. Enough said for now.

On December 31, 2007 the Public Service Act came into force. Its long title states:

An Act to revise and consolidate the law relating to the administration of the public service for the purpose of achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness in the management of that service and for matters related thereto.

I make bold to say, without fear of sensible contradiction, that the lofty goals of “achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness” have not been even slightly achieved. The Public Service is far worse than it was prior to these “legislated improvements”.

Persons who are unfamiliar with the actual legislation would most likely conclude that it only deals with appointments and promotions, since that’s all the public hears about. In that regard, it has ushered in a regime that has thwarted the legitimate expectations of promotions and appointments for deserving officers, in preference for relatives of senior public officers and politically aligned persons.

The 1978 Public Service Regulations, that were largely replaced by the PSA, were far superior to what currently obtains. Under the old regulations, an officer who was superseded had an avenue to question and reverse his supersession. No such provisions were made under the PSA. That is why so many public officers have to resort to the courts, which unfortunately move like molasses flowing uphill.

The PSA is probably the worst piece of legislation that I have encountered in the 37 years that I have been involved in the Public Service, first as an employee and then as a workers’ representative. However, I do not want to give the impression that there are no positive aspects of the legislation. I will deal with one now and over time others will be highlighted in subsequent columns.

Paragraphs 11 and 12 if the Code of Conduct and Ethics, the Second Schedule to the PSA, originally gave me hope that the the authorities were finally going to do something about the endemic corruption and other misbehaviour among many senior public officers.

Subparagraph 11.(1) instructs a public officer to report if he is being required to act in a way that is, among other things: illegal; improper; or unethical. Similarly, subparagraph 11.(2) requires an officer to report any evidence of criminal or unlawful activities by others. The officer shall report such activities to his head of department, and where the head of department is involved, the report should be made to the Head of the Public Service.

Also, it is a major offence that merits dismissal if an officer fails to report this criminal activity. And any such reports shall be done in accordance with the procedure laid down in the appropriate guidelines or rules of conduct for the officer’s ministry or department. This all sounds so nice but after 10 years no guidelines have been published, and as far as I am aware, no drafts have ever been circulated.

This alone demonstrates how serious Government is about stamping out corruption in the Public Service.

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Docking Strikers Pay Not Automatic in Public Service

It was with utter amazement that I read a circular purportedly from the Head of the Civil Service reminding senior managers in the Public Service of the General Orders relating to absence from duty without permission, in response to the trade unions announcement of a march. Additionally, they were required to “make a note of any officers or employees absenting themselves from duty during working hours without authorization”.

To my mind, this communication is particularly troubling for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was stunned by what I consider to be the improper issuance of the circular and had to ask myself, why would the person, who is the final arbiter of grievances in the Public Service, insert herself so early into a matter that could potentially end up on her desk for resolution?

Let’s say that an officer, who attended the march, had his pay docked as result. Apart from industrial action, there are several options available to the aggrieved employee or the union to seek to resolve the issue. The officer may file a grievance in accordance with section 12 of the Public Service Act (PSA). That section allows an officer, who is aggrieved by the action of a person who has supervisory powers over him, to invoke the procedure with respect to grievance handling that is set out in the Fourth Schedule.

Accordingly, the union is required to refer the matter to the Head of the Public Service for resolution before declaring a dispute. It would now seem that this ill-advised circular would send an aggrieved officer looking for other options.

An aggrieved officer, whose pay has been docked, also has the option of going to the High Court. It is my view that notwithstanding what is written in the General Orders and the Code of Conduct and Ethics, permanent secretaries and heads of department cannot automatically reduce the pay of persons who are absent from duty without permission.

Paragraphs 15 of the Code of Conduct and Ethics makes it an offence for an officer to absent himself from duty without permission, except in the opinion of the permanent secretary or head of department the absence is due to illness or other unavoidable circumstances. It goes on to say that the pay of the officer may be reduced by the permanent secretary or head department to take account of such absence.

Among other things, paragraph 27 of the Code of Conduct and Ethics makes it an offence of a serious nature to breach paragraph 15. The first offence of a serious nature mentioned in the Code of Discipline is: “absence from duty without leave or approval”.

Paragraph 4.(2) sets out the role of the permanent secretary and head of department in relation to misconduct of a serious nature. They can investigate the matter and report their findings to the Chief Personnel Officer. They do not have the power to discipline public officers. Section 94.(1) of the Constitution assigns that role to the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the PSC.

Further, section 95 of the Constitution allows the Governor-General to delegate his powers, except the power to dismiss, to one or more members of the PSC or to public officers. So far the Governor-General has not done so in respect of permanent secretaries and heads of department. In any event even if he had done so, accused officers still have a right to due process before a disciplinary penalty could be imposed. It is interesting to note that docking pay is not a penalty that is set out in the Code of Discipline.

Also, if an officer believes that he has been adversely affected in his employment by his employer because he went on a trade union organised march, he can report the matter to the police. Section 40A of the Trade Union Act makes it an offence, punishable by a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for six months or to both, for an employer to dismiss a workman or adversely affect the employment or alters the position of a workman to his prejudice because that workman takes part in trade union activities outside or, with the consent of the employer, within working hours.

The Public Service is a rules-based organisation but it seems that those who are required to manage the service do not have a working knowledge of the rules.

Oh NO, Dennis Clarke!

Danny Gill is a member of the NUPW

Danny Gill is a member of the NUPW

I am responding to the attention grabbing headline carried on the front page of the Thursday, April 17, 2014 Nation Newspaper :- “CLARKE HITS OUT”. In that piece, which was accompanied with the additional headline No Solidarity on page 3, the General Secretary of the NUPW has been reported to say that the appointed and assumed “safe” members in the NUPW showed little or no interest in caring about their fellow comrades who were sent home or being sent home in the recent retrenchment exercise. He went on further to indicate that even when the prospect or discussion about striking to support their fellow comrades was put on the table or introduced, many of the appointed and “safe” civil servants hid beneath the burden of having a “mortgage”. I must take strong exception to this story. For the most part, it appears to be some sort of “public relations” face saving gimmick for the General Secretary Dennis Clarke. It also could be an attempt by him to explain away his failure to effectively lead the union in a time of crisis. It is an affront to all members to be “scape goated” for Mr. Clarke’s considerable failings.

I have been on the National Council of the NUPW for more than four years. The National Council is the NUPW’s highest decision making body outside of its Annual Conference. During my tenure, there has been no discussion or even a hint at striking against the current administration.

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The Truth Often Hurts


At the root of many problems plaguing Barbados and the greater Caribbean is the fact that there are “many people not qualified to be in a range of key positions in both the public and private sectors”. This reality is having a silent stifling affect on progress in many public and private organizations due to a lack of KNOW HOW and INNOVATIVE thinking.

If we as a nation continue this “old school cronyism”, “out of date”, ineffective manner of placing unqualified people in key positions we will not be able to effectively meet many of our national public and private section objectives in these troubling economic times.  In the public sector we see under performing career government workers just simply taking up space and wasting government dollars while eager ready to work young folks are coming out of school and can’t find a job.   In the public sector we see under performing managers who got their positions based on who they knew or how many degrees they have on a wall versus what they could do to grow business and innovate, while eager bright young staff wait in the corporate “pick” trenches for the opportunity to shine.

At the end of the day if this internal brain drain continues we will see Barbados and the region as a whole continue to lose many of our best and brighter young minds to the US, UK, and Canada at an economic  time when we need them the most.