Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Phillips: Give Public Service Commission oversight of state bodies

Published:Friday | August 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dr Peter Phillips, president of the People's National Party, speaking at the Caribbean Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions 30th anniversary dinner held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Wednesday.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has called for an urgent review of the governance arrangements in the public sector especially in light of recent developments in Jamaica.

Speaking on issues of governance and accountability, Phillips advanced a series of recommendations to strengthen and secure the integrity of public bodies as he addressed the Caribbean Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions' 30th Anniversary Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.

The opposition leader said that the Public Service Commission must be given general oversight responsibility with respect to the functioning of public bodies to ensure that the procedures for appointments and termination of staff were in keeping with the principles enshrined in the Constitution and should be made explicit in appropriate legislation.

"The Public Service Com-mission was provided for with the objective of having an independent body of public servants insulated from partisan political bias," he said, adding that the commission should also play a "guardianship role" with respect to the selection and appointment of heads of the public bodies.

"It is our view that there should be agreement, not mere consultation, between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition as to who should chair the commission," Phillips said.

He suggested that for further effectiveness, members of the Public Service Commission should be selected from a slate of candidates agreed on between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. He added that the trade union movement should preserve its right to name a member of the commission.

"The Public Service Commission should be selected for a period of seven years, thereby severing the link between the tenure of the life of the commission and the normal tenure of the life of the political administration," said Phillips.

He hastened to point out that these changes, among others, to the operations and tenure of the Public Service Commission might require constitutional amendment.