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Samantha Fedee

Samantha Fedee

November 19 ,2020

Source

Declaring the move as unconstitutional, the GPSU yesterday upbraided Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira over the dismissal of Samantha Fedee as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and says it expects that she will retain her status.

Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) President Patrick Yarde in correspondence dated November 17 to Teixeira said that Fedee’s termination had been brought to the attention of the union with a request for representation.

Yarde quoted the first paragraph of the purported termination letter from Teixeira dated October 12, 2020 to Fedee which stated: “I hereby inform you that your appointment as Permanent Secretary with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs on September 15th, 2020 is hereby revoked.”

Yarde said that Fedee, a career public servant with over 25 years of unbroken service, joined the public service in November 1995, has risen from the position of Clerk to Personnel Officer to Senior Personnel Officer and then to Deputy Permanent Secretary, after which she succeeded to the position of Perma-nent Secretary in 2019. He said that she was confirmed in the latter position in 2020 by the Public Service Commission and therefore brings a wealth of experience to the position of Permanent Secretary.

“I consider the said letter a most outrageous usurpation of the powers of the Public Service Commission and an abuse of authority by you, the author of the letter in your capacity as a Minister of Government”, Yarde declared.

The PPP/C government’s firing and hiring of permanent secretaries since it entered office on August 2nd has raised questions about whether its actions aren’t unconstitutional given that these functions are constitutionally entrusted to the Public Service Commission. Further, a number of the new appointees are not career civil servants and have no experience to match the persons that they are replacing. A number of them are also considered to be political appointees having had close ties to the PPP/C.

Yarde in his letter to Teixeira said that Fedee’s appointment as Permanent Secre-tary is on the Pensionable Establishment of the Guyana Public Service.

“Therefore, in accordance with Article 201 of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Ms. Fedee’s appointment falls under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission. It is only the Public Service Commission that is vested with the authority to remove Ms. Fedee from her public office of Permanent Secretary and such removal to be done in accordance with the Public Service Commission Rules.

“Ms. Fedee’s appointment was not revoked by the Public Service Commission and you were not otherwise empowered to revoke her appointment or contribute to the unceremonious removal from office described in your letter”, Yarde admonished.

He pointed out that Article 201(1) of the Constitution explicitly provides that:

“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the power to make appointments to public offices and to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices shall vest in the Public Service Commission.”  

He also drew Teixeira’s attention to Article 38G of the Constitution  bearing the marginal note  “Public Service to be Free from Political Influence.”

Article 38G:

“(1) The integrity of the public service is guaranteed. No public officer shall be required to execute or condone irregular acts on the basis of higher orders.

(2) The freedom of every public officer to perform his or her duties and fulfil his or her responsibilities is protected.

(3) No public officer shall be the subject of sanctions of any kind without due process.”

(4) In the discharge of his or her duties a public officer shall execute the lawful policies of the government.”

He said that the termination letter to Fedee constitutes a breach of Article 38G of the Constitution.

In the circumstances, Yarde said that the union expects that Fedee’s remuneration and other benefits will be available to her during and after the conclusion of her leave and “that she returns to active duty at the status of Permanent Secretary, unless she concurs with any change that is proposed to her”.

He copied his letter to a number of officials including Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Michael Somersall and invited their intervention to ensure that Fedee’s constitutional rights as a Public Officer are respected and “due regard is displayed in observance for the Laws of Guyana”.

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That was a political appointment by the PNC/R.  It is customary whenever there is a change in Government, all political appointments are replaced. The PPP couldn't do anything about the changes the Coalition made when they came to power in 2015, so why should they complain about it now?

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Teixeira says removal of permanent secretary constitutional, done on instruction of President

Sherie Samantha Fedee

Sherie Samantha Fedee

Source

November 20 ,2020

The termination of the services of Permanent Secretary, Sherie Samantha Fedee was done upon the instruction of President Irfaan Ali and in line with the constitution, according to Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira.

She made this statement in a letter yesterday to Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) President Patrick Yarde who had written  her on Tuesday declaring that the October 12th correspondence  by Teixeira to Fedee terminating her employment was unconstitutional.

In her letter to Yarde yesterday, Teixeira said that she had been advised that the power to make appointments to the Office of Permanent Secretary and to remove from such Office, vests exclusively in the President, pursuant to Article 205 of the Constitution of Guyana. She asserted that this power is exercisable by the President and is not subject to, any recommendation of, or consultation with, any Commission, including, the Public Service Com-mission, or indeed, any other person, body or authority. 

Gail Teixeira

“In short, the Public Service Commission exercises no powers whatsoever over, or in relation to, a Permanent Secretary. Accordingly, the constitutional provisions to which you refer bear no relevance to the matter at hand”, Teixeira said.

A reading of Article 205 however suggests that while the President does not need to consult with the Public Service Com-mission (PSC) on the dismissal of a permanent secretary he is required to do so in relation to the appointment of one.

Teixeira further said that the constitutional rationale for this power being vested exclusively in the President resides in Article 115 of the Constitution, which renders a Permanent Secretary subject to the direction and control of the President or a Minister appointed by the President. 

“In the circumstances, I reject every allegation of wrongdoing, unlawfulness and unconstitutionality contained in your letter.

Patrick Yarde

“Without prejudice to the above, Ms. Fedee will be offered a lateral position at the same terms and conditions. The matter is under active consideration by the Ministry of the Public Service to find a suitable position “. Teixeira said.

However, Teixeira’s dismissal letter to Fedee on October 12th made no offer of any lateral position (see letter below.)

Teixeira also said in her letter to Yarde that the act of the PSC on September 15th, 2020 in appointing Fedee as Permanent Secretary in the Amerindian Affairs Ministry is null and void as it usurped the constitutional prerogative of the newly elected President.

Teixeira also took a swipe at Yarde.

“In closing, l also wish to put on record —and it would be remiss of me not to – regarding comments in your closing paragraphs with regards to my government, my observation (and that of thousands of other Guyanese), is that you, in your capacity as the head of the GPSU, were unusually silent on the termination of Permanent Secretaries and other senior public officers between May 2015 and March 2020”, she said.

Earlier in the day, Attorney General Anil Nandlall had also said that Teixeira did not usurp the powers of the PSC when she revoked the appointment of Fedee

“The Public Service Commission holds no supervisory power or any power at all in relation to Permanent Secretaries who are appointed by the President and are removable from office by the President,” he told Stabroek News.

The PSC’s supervisory powers, the AG posits ends at the Deputy Permanent Secretary.

On Tuesday,  Yarde in a letter to  Teixeira criticized her decision to terminate Fedee and expressed expectation that she will retain her status.

Usurpation

Noting that the termination had been brought to the attention of the union with a request for representation, Yarde accused the Minister of overstepping.

“I consider the letter [of termination] a most outrageous usurpation of the powers of the Public Service Commission and an abuse of authority by you, the author of the letter in your capacity as a Minister of Government,” he declared.

He quoted the first paragraph of the termination letter from Teixeira dated October 12, 2020 to Fedee which stated: “I hereby inform you that your appointment as Permanent Secretary with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs on September 15th, 2020 is hereby revoked.”

The letter by Teixeira specifically suggests that not only was Fedee no longer Permanent Secretary but that she no longer held any post within the public service.

The letter dated October 12 directs Fedee to proceed on accumulated leave and return any property and records belonging to the government.

“We would like to thank you for your years of service and wish you the best in your future endeavours,” it concluded.

This concluding paragraph is particularly egregious as even if Fedee’s appointment as PS were legally revoked she is still substantively a Deputy Permanent Secretary as appointed by the PSC in its constitutional function.

Asked how government’s actions have made her feel, Fedee said she was disappointed.

The 25-year veteran public servant holds a Degree in Public Management and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration.

She joined the public service in November 1995, rose from the position of Clerk to Personnel Officer to Senior Personnel Officer and then to Deputy Permanent Secretary, after which she succeeded to the position of Permanent Secretary in 2019. Fedee was confirmed in the latter position in 2020 by the Public Service Commission.

Since entering office the PPP/C government has replaced several career public servants who had been duly appointed to the post of Permanent Secretary with persons who are in several cases significantly less qualified than those whom they have replaced.

Yarde in his letter to Teixeira said that Fedee’s appointment as Permanent Secretary is on the Pension-able Establishment of the Guyana Public Service suggesting that it should therefore be governed by Article 201 of the constitution which states that subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the power to make appointments to public offices and to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices shall vest in the Public Service Commission.

Despite the provisions of Article 205 the position of Permanent Secretary is listed on the “Inventory of Authorized positions” for which appointment should come through the PSC as well as the list of approved public sector posts in the 2020 budget with a remunerations at the General Salary Scale 14.

“Ms. Fedee’s appointment was not revoked by the Public Service Commission and you were not otherwise empowered to revoke her appointment or contribute to the unceremonious removal from office described in your letter,” Yarde admonished on Tuesday.

He also drew Teixeira’s attention to Article 38G of the Constitution bearing the marginal note “Public Service to be Free from Political Influence.”

Fedee has been replaced by Sharon Hicks who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy. According to a release from government Hicks previously held the position of Management Development Officer at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, and served as an Auditor as well as an Internal Affairs Investigator at the Guyana Revenue Authority.

@Totaram posted:

Fedee is a career civil servant who held progressively more senior positions in the service.  Was hers too a political appointment?

She displayed an intellectual ineptitude, which is the ability to reason and understand but makes decisions and choices not suitable for the purpose of governing.

@Ramakant-P posted:

She displayed an intellectual ineptitude, which is the ability to reason and understand but makes decisions and choices not suitable for the purpose of governing.

Thanks for aptly describing Texiera and a whole bunch of PPP cronies.

@Mitwah posted:

The PPP is using Tex to carry out their vendetta.

Since when a permanent member is not a part of the PPP. It's not a vendetta. It is called clearing the swamp. You have a short memory. May I remind you of the vendetta the Coalition did on the PPP in 2015.  I am saying this and no one else.  It's payback time. 

@Ramakant-P posted:

Since when a permanent member is not a part of the PPP. It's not a vendetta. It is called clearing the swamp. You have a short memory. May I remind you of the vendetta the Coalition did on the PPP in 2015.  I am saying this and no one else.  It's payback time.

You don't think it was right then in 2015. What makes you think it is right now?

Last edited by Mitwah

The President has the power to appoint and dismiss Permanent Secretaries, etc..

Section 205, Guyana Constitution.

https://www.oas.org/juridico/s...guy_constitution.pdf

Section 205, subsections ( 1 ) & ( 3 )

205. (l) The power to make appointments to the offices to which this article applies and to remove from office persons holding or acting in such offices shall vest in the President.

   (2) Before making an appointment under paragraph (1) in favour of any person who holds any public office other than an office to which this article applies, the President shall consult the appropriate Commission.

   (3) The offices to which this article applies are the offices of Solicitor General, Permanent Secretary, to the Cabinet, Ambassador, High Commissioner or other principal representative of Guyana in any other country or accredited to any international organisation.

   (4) In paragraph (2) of this article “the appropriate Commission” means, in the case of a person who holds an office power to make appointments to which is vested in the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission or is vested in that Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, in the case of a person who is a teacher in the public service, the Teaching Service Commission, in the case of a person who holds an office power to make appointments to which is vested in the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Police Service Commission or is vested in that Commission, the Police Service Commission, and in any other case the Public Service Commission.

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