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Poor salary, long hours derail seach for praedial larceny czar

Published:Wednesday | December 24, 2014 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

The paltry salary and long, irregular working hours are emerging as major obstacles in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries' effort to recruit someone to head the Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit, more than a year after the post became vacant on December 10, 2013.

Following a Sunday Gleaner advertisement on July 20, 2014, calling for someone who would be responsible "for planning, organising, directing, controlling and executing all praedial larceny activities islandwide", the ministry has reopened the recruitment process.

Permanent Secretary Donovan Stanberry on Monday admitted that the selected candidate had passed on the job at the last minute, forcing the ministry to start the process all over.

In an article published late September, he had given this assurance: "We did the interviews and somebody has been selected, but we can't say who as yet because it still has to go to the Services Commission. But it can't go beyond the end of October."

On Monday, he was at a loss as to the reason the person had backed out at the last minute. However, The Gleaner understands that the field had been narrowed to two candidates with a senior police officer given the nod over a woman with extensive legal training. However, when advised that he had been selected for the job, the senior police officer explained that in light of a recent promotion, the ministry's remuneration package was no longer attractive.

When the recruiting officer called on the other shortlisted candidate to offer her the job, she also rejected the offer.

GOING THROUGH REJECTED RÈSUMÈS

The agriculture ministry has not re-advertised the post, but is instead now sifting through the rÈsumÈs of candidates it rejected in the first selection process.

The minimum requirements for the post of praedial larceny prevention coordinator, which was only approved by the finance ministry in April, calls for someone with a bachelor's degree in management studies, with economics, sociology, law, criminology or other fields with 10 years' experience at the senior level. In addition, public sector and paralegal experience would be assets.

Under 'Special Conditions Associated With The Job', it advises that: "Scope of work can be stressful" and that the person may be required to work on weekends and public holidays.

This is consistent with his/her obligations to review and propose amendments to the praedial larceny laws as well as identify factors and implement measures to make communities more resilient to praedial larceny.

For this, the praedial larceny prevention coordinator will be paid a basic annual salary of less than $2 million per year ($1,939,599). In addition, the post of an administrator was created to provide someone to work directly with the praedial larceny prevention coordinator and who would be "responsible for the planning, organising, directing and controlling of all human resource and administrative function (sic) of the Praedial Larceny Unit".

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com