PHILIPSBURG – Member of Parliament (MP) and Leader of the Democratic Party (DP) Sarah Wescot has weighed in on the news that the Secretary General (SG) of the Ministry of VROMI (Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure Management), Mr. Louis Brown has been stripped of most of his responsibilities by a memo from the Minister of VROMI Christopher Emmanuel, according to a press release from the MP.
The MP who has vast knowledge of the structure of government and was the key political player in the drafting of the current organizational structure has addressed the Minister of VROMI as well as the Minster of General Affairs, responsible for Personnel and Organization, the Sunday press release says.
“The MP explains: Without further explanation by the minister for this drastic act, all kinds of theories will be conjured. Hence my urgent questions to the Minster of VROMI and the Minister of General Affairs.
“Maybe, just maybe there is something to say for re-assessing the structure of government as to its effectiveness in this day and age. After all, we are 7 years into the new structure.
“However, this cannot be an isolated act by an individual minister, as this will have implications for the entire government organization and the processes across ministries. Bear in mind, that this structure was chosen to replace the former structure of government that was fragmented, loose and top-heavy in terms of departments and units.
“Units could be created from one day to another. Some officials had dual roles. Checks and balances were difficult to achieve and it was easy to shun responsibility. While ministers are politically responsible for their ministries, there is the need for synchronization across all ministries. After the initial months of the new rules of order for the Council of Minsters e.g., it became evident that if there was to be even a semblance of uniformity and a collective vision, more matters belonged on the table of the Council of Ministers.
“With senior civil service positions being reduced and or sidelined, where is the guarantee for continuity in government, when there is a change in political office holders? On the other hand, senior government officials, especially SGs must be held accountable for their performance, as are those who report to the SG.
“There must be reasons why such a drastic decision was taken and it would be interesting to learn from the minster what these reasons are. So, my questions to the respective ministers are:
“To the Minister of VROMI:
- Did the Minister obtain legal advice before undertaking this course of action? If so, please share.
- Did Personnel Affairs render its advice on this action by the Minister?
- Which other instances of this type of action is the Minister aware of? When and by whom?
- How does the Minister intend to deal with other legal responsibilities of the SG, such as his role in the decision making process and his responsibilities in accordance with other regulations?
- Has there been a performance evaluation of the SG of Vromi? If so, when and what were the results?
- Which functions of VROMI are "screened" functions?
- Has the civil servant in question been heard?
- Please outline specifically what matters have been delayed or retarded or are expected to be due to the function of SG, that lead the Minister to in essence "sideline" this functionary.
“To the Minister of General Affairs:
- In reference to the above in the case of the SG of VROMI, kindly respond to:
- Is this a necessary and/or desirous trend within the government organization?
- Are there other intentions with respect to the present organizational structure of government?
- Have the SGs of government been evaluated? When and what are/were the results?
- Have management meetings been held in accordance with the LIOL*?
- Kindly solicit urgent legal advice and respond to the question whether a minister can relieve a SG of his/her responsibilities as assigned by the LIOL, in particular art 3 of this ordinance.
- If this is possible, what are some of the consequences and/or other changes that this decision will make necessary?
national ordinance structure and organization of government.”