Enabling Environment for Public Service, Justice Administration

first_imgDear Editor,The challenge of establishing and maintaining a professional and politically neutral Public Service, and constitutional positions with persons of high integrity for effective management and administration has eluded every Government administration from the 1960’s and continuing today in 2017. In spite of principled statements on public administrations from heads of successive governments, no serious attempts have been made to transform and professionalise the public service, and liberate it from the strangle hold and continuing control of the political directorate of the day. This on going unsatisfactory situation is related to the reality of ethnic and race politics for over six decades by the two major political parties – the PPP and the PNC. Their conduct is often characterised by intense adversarial political contests with no national consensus on major issues.More recently their conduct has impacted negatively on the independence of the Judiciary and other Constitutional bodies. The Judiciary, judges, magistrates and the chairpersons and members of constitutional and statutory bodies must demonstrate to the public their resistance to political interference in the independent discharge of their constitutional and statutory duties, and expose to the public such interference in conflict with the law. Their integrity must go before them to rebuild public confidence, and high trust in these institutions.Judicial officers and holders of constitutional and statutory bodies must be able and courageous enough to let the politicians and political directorate know, in no uncertain or quiet way, that they would reject any political intimidation and not yield to their unwholesome political dictates and wishes outside the law.In the national interest and the common good for all the citizens of this country, the political parties must work for the required changes in our politics to create more inclusive and broad-based governing structures through constitutional and other legislative changes, if we are in our lifetime, to achieve national unity and social cohesion. The governing authorities of the Executive and the National Assembly must create and foster an enabling environment for public officials in public institutions to function without fear or favour.The CoI Report in the Public Service 2016, under the Chairmanship of Professor Harold Lutchman draws attention to this continuing situation, in the public service in particular, and made several recommendations to address the issues. The CoI directs attention to approaches in Commonwealth Caribbean and other states where alternative arrangements are relevant to Guyana in the attempt to restore public confidence in the public bureaucracies and the political directorate. Some of these measures were recommended by two predecessor Commissions of Inquiry but, were not implemented, no doubt to suit the advantage of the political administration of the day.The CoI notes that the Burgess-Hunn Commission had, as early as 1966, recommended that the constitutionally established Public Service Commission and a Public Service Ministry should function under, “…a Public Service law in which the governing principles are laid down. The basic tenets would be embodied in a Public Service Act.” More pointedly, that Commission had recommended a strong well-structured and capable Public Service Ministry, buttressed by a Public Service Act which clearly defined the functions of a Public Service Ministry as the premier Ministry responsible for public management and administration.The Lutchman CoI of 2016 pointed out that a Public Service Act is a common instrument in the search for effective public management and public administration in Caricom countries. The 2016 CoI recommended the enactment and promulgation of a Public Service Law along the lines of the other countries cited. Such a Public Service Law and related Regulations could promote the effective management and administration of the Public Service and insulate and protect it from irregular and undesirable influences, thereby enhancing its status and productive capacity. The Commission also recommended that the Public Service Ministry/Department and the Public Service Commission should be constituted with professional personnel with high integrity to rebuild trust and confidence in the public administration services. These same requirements are applicable to the Judiciary, Constitutional Service Commissions and Statutory Bodies. The CoI further recommended that urgent action be taken to enact a Code conduct for all public servants. Similarly a legally enforceable code of conduct must be enacted for the Executive Members, Ministers, and Members of the National Assembly, who must be obedient, on pain of penalty, to the requirements of the Integrity law.Sincerely,Joshua Singhlast_img read more

Tax Administration Jamaica Act Passed in the Senate

first_imgThe Senate, on Friday (March 22), approved a Bill for the establishment of Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) as a semi-autonomous revenue authority. The Tax Administration Jamaica Act 2013 was piloted by Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding.He explained that the TAJ will be responsible for registration, taxpayer services, audit, investigations, assessments, collection, enforcement, legal representation, and various support services now being carried out in respect of domestic taxes.“What this legislation does is to establish a new governance machine that gives greater autonomy to revenue administration, and establishes a governance regime, which will allow for greater autonomy in respect to their ability to manage their own budget, and deploy their own human resources,” he stated.He noted that this module of a semi-autonomous revenue authority operates in various developed and developing countries.According to Senator Golding, the passage of this legislation is one of the structural benchmarks in the programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He also noted that the Bill represents the continuation of the process of reform of Jamaica’s tax system, which began in 2011. The Bill provides for the establishment of a board that will be responsible for overseeing the general administration of the authority; and a Commissioner General, who will be responsible for its day-to-day operation.In supporting the Bill, Opposition Senator, Arthur Williams, said he has no issue with what is being achieved by the Bill in completing the process of tax reform.“We support, entirely, what is being proposed here, and we understand the urgency of passing this Bill…,” he stated.By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporterlast_img read more