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Ministries’ manipulated public servant leave systems- Minister Harmon

by Zena Henry

Minister of State Joseph Harmon has warned senior public servants to take their leave when it is due or risk losing it.

He made the announcement as it has become clear to the government that some persons had been manipulating the leave system.

 Harmon made the disclosure Wednesday July 22 just as he explained what is taking place with the controversial Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Khursid Sattaur. He said Sattaur was sent on three weeks leave which he requested. Harmon said other persons had accumulated “huge amounts of leave” and they were given the opportunity to proceed on that leave until it is finished or the revenue authority management requires them back.

However on the leave issue itself, Harmon said the government is finding problems keeping up with leave records. “What we are coming up against is a lot of particularly senior officers in the public service; who have hundreds of days of leave and it seems to us that the records that are kept by these various ministries or semi -autonomous bodies that people are enjoying leave but it is not being recorded.”

He pointed out, for example, a permanent secretary was recently sent on leave having 195 days leave. He said however that files are kept at those ministries and other places where other transactions in that regard are conducted.

He noted that when government compares what is happening, for example, at the Ministry of Finance where several persons may have written for pay in lieu of leave, documents show that such a person was paid three or four months pay in lieu of leave and because their own record at the ministry does not have that transaction or the letter was taken out of the file, they are claiming for the period of time for which they were already paid.

“We are having a lot of issues with public servant leave and the position that we have taken is that people must enjoy their leave in the year when it is due. The only time you can find people who don’t want to go on leave at all is because they want to sit down on something. They don’t want to move; they got to sit down there.”

Harmon said those staffers were being giving the opportunity to take their leave. “But from 2015 going forward… if you don’t use it you will lose it.”