Monday 1 June, 2020

Government says nothing underhanded about Agriculture PS leave

Roy Morris, Press Secretary to Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley has suggested there was nothing untoward in the way Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Seibert Frederick was sent on leave.

And, he has suggested, contrary to the suggestion in some sections of the press, it was not done punitively.

The veteran civil servant, who has been in the post for the last nine months, said yesterday in a memo that had been directed to go on leave as of yesterday, May 13, with said information being formally presented to him around minutes to 4:00 pm on the evening of Friday, May 10, 2019.  Frederick said this was done while he was attending a meeting with the Minister, which continued until 4:30 p.m.

In a statement issued this evening, Morris said any person coming to such a conclusion would be completely wrong as the due process had been followed.

“[Mr] Frederick, a veteran of the Public Service, had accumulated 198 days (approximately six months) of vacation leave that was still to be taken, having not taken any holiday for the past three years. Additionally, the Ministry of the Public Service has no record of Mr Frederick having applied for a deferment of leave as required. 

“In any event, since he will reach the age of 67 years on September 30, 2019, when compulsory retirement will kick in, the ministry had no choice but to ask Mr Frederick to take the outstanding leave from Monday May 13, 2019, in order that all time owed would be exhausted by the effective date of his retirement,” the press secretary said in his statement.

He said while it has been reported that Frederick expressed shock at the short notice of the correspondence, which he said did not allow him the opportunity to say goodbye to his staff, senior officials reported prior to going on leave, the Director General in the Ministry of the Public Service, Gail Atkins discussed the issue on the telephone with him.

“Additionally, last Friday, prior to dispatching the letter directly to Mr Frederick by messenger, out of respect, the next most senior officer in the Ministry of the Public Service in the absence of the Director General also discussed the issue with Mr Frederick on the telephone, explaining that based on instructions, deferment at this stage was not an option.

“Every effort was made by officials at Ministry to honour the exemplary service and seniority of Mr Frederick as a public officer for the past four decades, and to ensure that as an individual he was shown the respect that should be accorded every officer in the Public Service,” Morris added.

He stressed for the Public Service to function effectively and fairly order has to be a hallmark of the way each officer performs his or her duties, regardless of that person’s status.

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