by Linda Straker
- PSC terminated contract with Valerie Thomas as Labour Commissioner after 3 months
- Opposition Leader called on House Speaker to advise Leader of Government Business to answer question
- PSC is independent body responsible for hiring, firing, disciplining, and regularising of public officers
Phillip Telesford, Leader of Government Business in the Lower House of Parliament, said that under the current Dickon Mitchell National Democratic Congress administration, the Public Service Commission (PSC) will not be accountable to Government.
“The Public Service Commission is a separate entity and does not, under this administration, answer to the Government of Grenada. They are a separate creature… and so I wish to advise the Leader of the Opposition to direct or so direct his question to the Public Service Commission,” he declared during the 23 May sitting of the Lower House.
He announced this while responding to questions from Opposition Leader Dr Keith Mitchell. The question addressed to him as Leader of Government Business inquired about the criteria and process employed in selecting the former labour commissioner. It speaks to the qualifications and background that landed the job and the reason for the dismissal.
On 2 March, Labour Minister Claudette Joseph said that the PSC terminated a 2-year contract with Valerie Thomas, who served for 3 months as Labour Commissioner from 12 November 2022.
“I am pretty sure that the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition is fully acquainted with the processes and procedures of the Public Service Commission, and will have first-hand knowledge that such a question must be directed not at the Leader of Government Business or the Government of Grenada, but should be directed to the Public Service Commission,” said Telesford.
“We do not know of what criteria they used in their process; we do not know and has not seen the resume for the person so hired for the job and the reason for the dismissal,” he said.
Expressing dismay about the instructions provided to him from Telesford, the Opposition Leader called on Leo Cato, Speaker of the House, to use his good office to advise the Leader of Government Business that the question must be answered. “He cannot ask me to go to the Public Service Commission for the answer,” said Dr Mitchell.
“I have a responsibility to ask questions on behalf of the persons whom we represent and the people of the country, and answers must appropriately be given, not a dictate from a member. In effect, what he is saying is that the Public Service Commission appoints Permanent Secretaries, so I should ask them no questions,” said Dr Mitchell.
“The ministers are overall responsible for the administration and leadership of the Government Department; they have a fundamental responsibility. You cannot tell me to ask the Public Service Commission a question. In fact, the Public Service Commission is not a creature of this Parliament. Let us get it right,” Dr Mitchell added.
The PSC is the independent body responsible for the hiring, firing, disciplining, and regularising of public officers. Section 83 of the Grenada Constitution provides for the appointment of the 5-member Public Service Commission by the Governor-General on recommendation from the Prime Minister. He can also recommend that a member’s appointment be revoked.
The Chairman and 2 members shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting following the advice of the Prime Minister, and the other 2 members shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after the Prime Minister consulted with the appropriate representative bodies. The Constitution names the appropriate bodies as the Grenada Union of Teachers and the Grenada Civil Service Association.
The current chairperson is Attorney Deborah St Bernard, and the other members are Judy Benoit, Bernard Antoine, Faye Thompson, and James Alexander.