Rowley Blames Augustine for No THA Chief Administrator

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley takes no blame for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) not having its senior public servant – the Chief Administrator.

He says he has tried to cooperate with THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine as best as he could in   dealing with matters in a civilised manner and was highly disappointed in the outcome.

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“The reason why they (THA) have no chief administrator is because of the actions of the THA who claimed to have some audit and who claimed to use the results of the audit against a senior public servant,” Dr Rowley said.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Monday, Dr Rowley explained the process of hiring a Chief Administrator, one of the most senior positions held in Tobago.

He also said that the reason a new Chief Administrator was needed was because of the retirement age of the previous one.

The Central Administration Service in Tobago (CAST) under his office whose most senior public servant is the permanent secretary, was also mentioned.

Both the THA Chief Administrator and CAST permanent secretary were roughly on the same level, public service positions that were filled by processes used by the Public Service Commission (PSC)  Dr Rowley said.

He said at a meeting with Augustine on Tobago matters, it was agreed that a new chief administrator would be needed.

Dr Rowley said, “That Commission will make a recommendation to the Prime Minister’s Office asking for no objection. The prime minister under law before dealing with that,  to consult with the Chief Secretary and after that consultation, a decision can be made as to who the senior public servant will be to become the chief administrator in the THA. That is the law.”

He said he was aware of the vacancy and was expecting a recommendation from the PSC.

“The Public Service Commission did its job,” Dr Rowley said.

But, he said, “That recommendation got to the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister but did not get to the prime minster because at the same time at the same day that it arrived in the permanent secretary’s office in the Office of the Prime Minister from the Public Service Commission, another piece of correspondence arrived advising the permanent secretary that a new development has taken place.”

Dr Rowley said he received the second before he saw the first.

The issue was that the person who was to be appointed by the Commission with his permission was suddenly interdicted.

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He said, “I am advised that on the last day of the Chief Administrator going out of office, that Office advised the Public Service Commission that the person in line to replace the administrator, not a public servant who happens to be a CAST in the Prime Minister’s Office, that that person is now to be the subject of allegations of wrongdoing and to be suspended.”

This left the Commission with no choice but to withdraw the original recommendation and the process has to be restarted.

What he found disappointing and worrisome was that when he met with Augustine, it was not disclosed to him that it was the intention of the THA to take action against the person that they interdicted.

Dr Rowley said, “I am very disappointed in my Tobago colleague and colleagues.”


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