‘All of us should say sorry’
Thursday, October 11 2012
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Carolyn debates: Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan makes her contribution to the Budget debate in Parliament yesterday....
CONGRESS of the People (COP) San Fernando West MP Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan yesterday said all Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives should apologise to the nation for the Section 34 fiasco.
However as she made this statement in her contribution to the 2013 Budget debate in the House, there were audible grumbles of “move on” which came from the Government benches on one side of the Parliament Chamber.
St Joseph MP Herbert Volney, who now sits in the backbench on the opposite side of the Chamber, appeared emotionless as Seepersad-Bachan made this comment.
Volney was fired as Justice Minister by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for misleading the Cabinet about the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Judiciary agreeing to the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011. “All of us are responsible for Section 34. I am just saying that all of us should have apologised,” she said.
COP political leader and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar and Seepersad-Bachan apologised for the Section 34 fiasco at a news conference on September 18, two days before Persad-Bissessar fired Volney.
Seepersad-Bachan, who is also Public Administration Minister, also slammed the former PNM government for abusing the scholarship programme which her ministry is responsible for. Declaring there is now a proper evaluating criteria to ensure the right candidates qualify for these scholarships, Seepersad-Bachan said it was no longer a case where the only thing you need to obtain a scholarship from her ministry was “a personal note from the Prime Minister.” Describing the way the programme operated under the PNM was disgraceful, Seepersad-Bachan declared, “That must never happen again.”
She objected to Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s questions about why Government was shifting several government ministries out of Port-of-Spain and relocating them to Chaguanas.
Declaring it was Government’s intention to spread its agencies to all four corners of the country, Seepersad-Bachan asked, “Why do we need to bottleneck Port-of-Spain?”
Focusing on problems which have plagued the country’s Public Service for years, Seepersad- Bachan said the plethora of contract positions in the Public Service was the result of the system being unable to keep pace with the expectation of citizens for a higher level of service.
She added the number of contract positions in the Public Service grew from 2,000 in 1990 to 11,000 in 2010. Stating that public officers “are crying out for a compensation system which is fair,” Seepersad-Bachan said Government has heard their cries and is addressing this issue.
She predicted in the near future, advertisements for positions in the Public Service will include the compensation package as well. Expressing respect for the independence of the Public Service Commission and all other service commissions, Seepersad-Bachan said Government is working with them to ensure greater efficiency in their operations.