NDP VIEW: The ULP Must Stop the Victimization

In a recent judgment, Justice Esco Henry ruled in favour of the Public Service Union (PSU) in its case against the Public Service Commission (PSC). You may have had an opportunity to read the judgment and certainly would have heard public comments about it. There is no way of sugar coating it; and I know some in the ULP have tried this is a bombshell of a judgment!

The PSU complained on behalf of its members (seven of whom gave evidence in the case) that the PSC failed to comply with regulations governing promotions in the Public Service.  The relevant Regulations are Regulation: 15, 18, 19, 20 and 27. The PSC countered that it complied the regulations in doing its job.

In a scathing judgment which criticised the Chairman and PSC), Justice Henry ruled that the PSC had failed to comply with the regulations governing promotions. The Court found that the specific officers who testified in the case were wronged by the PSC in promotions process and were entitled to redress. It also recognized the damaging effects of the PSC’s bad practices will have on the government if they are not corrected urgently.

So, if seniority lists were not kept, annual assessment of officers were not done, posts were not advertised, how were appointments and promotions being made? How can we say there is no ‘frien frien’ business, when there is no record to show on what basis promotions were made.  How can we say people were not victimized or passed over for reasons that had nothing to do with their performance?  We cannot!   Where is the transparency that this ULP government is so loudly and persistently trumpeting? There is clearly none.

It is good that this case was brought to Court because if anyone had spoken about these practices by the PSC anecdotally or even from personal experience, there would have been much hand-wringing by the Prime minister and all sorts of denials.  There would have been assertion of the government’s adherence to the principle of good governance and much talk about how transparent the government was in appointments and promotion in the service.  But, now it is all out there for the world to see.  The emperor has no clothes!

I salute the courage of the officers who gave evidence in the case. I have heard that efforts were made to get people from across the Service to testify so that the judgment could cover, not just the areas where the seven who testified worked, but the whole service.  But, people were afraid to testify because that would have exposed them to possible retribution and punishment in their jobs.

We must change that culture of fear in the public service so that people can voice their opinions and stand up for their rights when they function properly, the whole government benefits and by extension the entire country benefits.

Statement on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

As the socio-economic and political situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela becomes increasingly precarious our concern for the safety, security and general well-being of the people of that regional sister country occupies our greatest consideration at this critical time. We urge the protagonists in the country, in particular, as well as all external parties, to be guided by that primordial humanitarian principle. The citizens of that country, like all other people, deserve to live in peace and security, in their own homeland, in order to build a healthy, prosperous and felicitous existence, utilizing their human and natural resources, for the benefit of all.

We in the New Democratic Party (NDP), the oldest active political party in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), in accordance with our constitution, have actively worked to forge lasting relations with the governments and people of Latin America, even before the attainment of political independence in 1979. Indeed, we have moved in the footsteps of our forebears, who, since the mid-19th century, have traversed the region and beyond in search of opportunities for economic advancement.

In government we have consolidated and extended interstate relations, firmly based on mutual respect and non-interference in domestic affairs. At the sub-regional, regional, hemispheric and wider international levels, through our membership in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, CARICOM, the Association of Caribbean States, the Organization of American States and the United Nations, our party is a consistent voice for our guiding principles of respect for, and promotion of, human rights, and self-determination of peoples through representative democracy.

Our party, in parliamentary opposition since 2001, is fully aware of the less salubrious manifestations and frustrations of democracy through abuse of government power over the people. Even now, some three years after the last general election in SVG, in December 2015, the people are awaiting the decision of the courts of law in relation to petitions filed in a situation where the government holds a narrow one (1) seat majority for a second consecutive election. It is a clear case of justice delayed being justice denied.

The security of states is best served through principled multi-lateral co-operation among themselves, regardless of size, individual wealth, or strength. For small and micro-states like SVG it is the only option.

Fully cognizant of the challenges, stresses and strains to which even the most established democracies are subject; we reiterate our unwavering commitment to the solidarity we share with other countries of the region with the people of the Bolivarian republic.

We recall, with deep appreciation, the long-standing bi- lateral co-operation and mutual assistance between our countries and pray for a resolution of the current crisis, in the best interests of the Venezuelan people.