Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Search on for praedial larceny czar

Published:Wednesday | July 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

More than four years after the Praedial Larceny Prevention Programme was launched, a unit is to be established in the Ministry of Agriculture, staffed by at least two persons and dedicated to addressing farm theft.

"We are going to hit the market with advertisements, probably by next week," Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry, told The Gleaner on Monday.

The advertisement to fill the post of praedial larceny prevention coordinator comes seven months after the ministry, last December, opted not to renew the contract of former Assistant Commissioner of Police Reggie Grant, who had been appointed to the post in December 2011.

Grant succeeded Lt Col Paul Dunn, who took office in May 2010, but left a year later over salary concerns.

Stanberry said even though both men had been legally employed, the post of praedial larceny prevention coordinator was only now being officially established.

NO BUDGET LINE FOR POST

"We give people contracts; call them consultants, for want of a better word. They are not on the permanent establishment of the ministry," he said. "That is not a permanent situation because if your contract ends and there is no more money, you have to just tell the person, 'That's it'."

He said the danger stemmed from the fact that there had never been a budget line for the post, but the finance ministry corrected the oversight at the start of financial year 2014-15.

"The Ministry of Finance and Planning has granted approval for the institution of a Praedial Larceny Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, effective April 1, 2014. The unit will be headed by a praedial larceny prevention coordinator and will now have the requisite administrative and budgetary support it needs," Dermon Spence, chief technical director in the agriculture ministry, wrote in response to concerns from the Cattle Breeders Society about the unfilled vacancy in the wake of alarming incidents of larceny of livestock.

Stanberry explained that the delay in appointing the two persons to the unit was due in large measure to the swathes of red tape involved in the appointment of civil servants.

"After you get a budget, you have to get the post established. By established, I mean that you have to do the job description - outline the competencies you need for the job - and send it to the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office will classify the post to see what level they come out, and then having classified them, we have to apply to the Post Operations Committee of the Ministry of Finance. That's the committee that has to approve the filling of every single post as part of the whole thing to make sure that the public service is not inflated.

"And once we get the approval, then we advertise. … That's where we are now."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com