Sarah queries stripping of Brown’s responsibilities

PHILIPSBURG–The “drastic act” of stripping Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI off all, but two of his responsibilities by Minister Christophe Emmanuel has drawn a sharp response and query from Democratic Party (DP) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams.

Brown will be virtually stripped of his control of the Ministry’s departments as of today, Monday. He was informed of this change by Emmanuel via a memo obtained by this newspaper dated August 23. The move, according to Emmanuel, is linked to him taking a more hands-on approach to the operation of the departments.
Wescot-Williams has written to Emmanuel and Minister of General Affairs Prime Minister

William Marlin querying the reasons for changes to Brown’s duties. “There must be reasons why such a drastic decision was taken and it would be interesting to learn from the minster what these reasons are,” she said.

“Without further explanation by the minister for this drastic act, all kinds of theories will be conjured … Maybe, just maybe there is something to say for reassessing the structure of government as to its effectiveness in this day and age. After all, we are seven years into the new structure,” she said in a press statement on Sunday.

With senior civil service positions being reduced and/or side-lined, where is the guarantee for continuity in government when there is a change in political office holders, she questioned. “Senior government officials, especially secretaries-general must be held accountable for their performance, as are those who report to them.”

Wescot-Williams wants to know from Emmanuel whether he obtained legal advice before undertaking this course of action and if yes, she called for the advice to the shared by the Minister. Whether the Personnel Affairs Department rendered its advice on the Minister’s action and if the Minister knows of other instances of this type of action, when such has taken place and by whom were also queried by the MP.

“Has the civil servant in question been heard? How does the Minister intend to deal with other legal responsibilities of the SG [secretary-general], such as his role in the decision making process and his responsibilities in accordance with other regulations? Has there been a performance evaluation of the SG of VROMI? If so, when and what were the results,” she asked in her letter.

An outline of specifically what matters have been delayed or held up or are expected to be due to the function of secretary-general that led the Minister to in essence “side-line” Brown has been required by the MP.

In her correspondence to Marlin, her coalition partner, Wescot-Williams asked in relation to Brown’s removal if this is a necessary and/or desirous trend within the government organisation and if there are other intentions with respect to the present organisational structure of government.

She questioned if all secretaries-general have been evaluated; if yes, when and what were the results.

Whether management meetings have been held in accordance with the national ordinance structure and organisation of government LIOL was also asked by Wescot-Williams to Marlin.

She called on Marlin to “kindly solicit urgent legal advice and respond to the question whether a minister can relieve an SG of his/her responsibilities as assigned by the LIOL, in particular article 3 of this ordinance. If this is possible, what are some of the consequences and/or other changes that this decision will make necessary?”

Source: The Daily Herald