Chief Sec: THA reshuffle coming soon

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine – File photo by David Reid

THA CHIEF SECRETARY Farley Augustine says a reshuffle of his administration will be announced soon.

Augustine had first indicated that a reshuffle was coming more than a year ago – January 16, 2023 – during a function at the Main Ridge Forest Reserve Visitor Centre, Parlatuvier.

On that occasion, he said, “The time frame I am looking at is towards the end of the month of January and of course, I would give clear updates in terms of how that would go, how the structural changes will be like because we spent one year in office so we got a chance to see what works, what does not work what requires some tweaking, because it is all about being able to efficiently roll out the mandate, pledges to the people of Tobago.”

In an interview on the Tobago Updates morning show on March 13, 2024, Augustine said a date for the reshuffle has finally been fixed.

“I will share with you that all of my secretaries and assistant secretaries are aware of the date of the announcement.

“They are aware of when the reshuffle will become effective by and the fact that the media is still asking means that I can still trust members of my team because they have not disclosed that publicly with anyone.”

He continued, “I could tell you that my entire team is already aware of the reshuffle when the announcement will be made, when it will take effect from.

He said he has met with secretaries and assistant secretaries individually to inform them of the upcoming changes.

Asked when the announcement would be made, Augustine would only say, “It will be made when it will be made.”

On whether portfolios will be realigned across the board, he added, “When it is made, you will be aware.”

Augustine said although a leader may decide to do things at a particular time, “There are other contextual things that you have to consider and you just have to postpone some things.

“It doesn’t make you a bad leader because you postpone or you delay something strategically. That is just what it is.”

For instance, Augustine said the Public Service Commission recently conducted interviews for new administrators, so he would like to have the new secretaries in place before they assume duties.

“I want to get some inclination as to which administrator we will get where because the interviews were done and from the interviews that were done, only one of the existing acting administrators was actually interviewed. It means that we will have practically a clean slate of administrators.”

He said the majority of the administrators who were interviewed were not members of the public service but contracted employees of the THA.

“There is a difference. So you talking about having green administrators all over the space. That is another reality that I have to contend with as a leader in ensuring that the shift and new administrators coming on does not happen in a way that causes too much chaos in the space and that things can transition smoothly.”

Asked if he believed the timing was right to bring in new administrators at a time when Tobago contractors and performers were clamouring for their outstanding payments, Augustine said he was very concerned.

Referring to the contractors, Augustine said money was given to the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development to effect the payments. But he said he does not sign cheques.

To this end, Augustine said he has mandated the Chief Administrator to establish a small task force to “go through the space and look at what is causing the problem systemically.

“I am of the considered view that we need to move away from these manual, paper-based ledgers that we do all this work on and move toward electronic platforms.”

He said significant sums will be needed for equipment and training.

“But we just have to go that way.”