November 19 ,2020
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.”
“(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”.