THERE is no vacuum in the leadership of the Prisons Service.
So said Public Service Commission chairman Winston Rudder during a virtual meeting with members of the Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities Joint Select Committee on Wednesday.
He also said hiring people from the private sector to work as permanent secretaries could work in certain situations, but is no long-term fix to problems in the Public Service.
In a statement on February 23, the Prison Service announced the retirement of Dennis Pulchan as Prisons Commissioner. The statement said Deopersad Ramoutar, the highest-ranked officer in the service, would act as prisons commissioner until someone was officially appointed to act or assume the role as head of the prison service.
Responding to questions from Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial, Rudder said, Pulchan had not gone on pre-retirement leave. :There is a Commissioner of Prisons in office as of now.”
He added that when Pulchan retires on March 5, “There will be an acting commissioner taking over from him.”
Committee chairman, Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh, said, “I am comforted by that.”
Asked by Deyalsingh about a recent comment by the Prime Minister about consideration being given to hiring people from the private sector as permanent secretaries, Rudder said, “It may make a contribution, yes.”
But, he added, “If everything else remains the same, we will be no better off.”
Reflecting on his experiences as a public servant, Rudder said, “It is not my view that one specific point intervention is the requirement of the day.”
Public-sector reform is a long-term process, Rudder said, and there needs to be consistency across the political pipeline between individual governments in this regard.
Responding to questions from Tunapuna MP Esmond Forde, Rudder said the Public Service Commission is seeing how best the recommendations contained in a 2017 Public Administration Ministry report can be used to strengthen the operations of the Service Commissions Department.