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Bring back external panel to award scholarships, Public Service Commission of Inquiry hears

Head of the Government Scholarship Programme Syinka Grogan testifying before the Commission of Inquiry into Guyana’s public service.

An external panel should be reintroduced to select scholarship awardees rather than the ministry as had been the case under the previous administration, according to the Head of the Government Scholarship Programme Syinka Grogan.

She reasoned that the best resort available to the government would be a reintroduction of the panel selection since persons who are more serious about the scholarships would be given a fair chance.

“Go back to having a panel that is external to the public service department…years ago it worked, we had better outcomes we had better persons coming out,” she told day one of hearings by a Public Service Commission of Inquiry (COI).

The Public Service Ministry has been scrapped by the four-month old coalition government and made a department of the Ministry of the Presidency.

She  has revealed that the Former Ministry of Public Service was responsible for the selection of scholarship awardees as opposed to a panel as was previously done.

Grogan mad the disclosure on Tuesday at the COI where she noted her concerns with Public Service administration in Guyana.

She was the second person to give a testimony to the Commissioners. The public servant explained that, as programme head she would usually prepare a spreadsheet of applicants for any particular scholarship.

That spreadsheet is subsequently sent to the Public Service Ministry and would return with the names of shortlisted applicants.

She said while she had some concerns about the formula utilized to select the candidates, she would usually keep them to herself and adhere to the precedent that was established by her predecessors.

“Sometimes I look and think what was the thinking on shortlisting some as against others,” she said while being questioned by the Commissioners.

Asked whether she was surprised by the choices made over at the Ministry, Grogan stated “I am not sure whether I was ever surprised.”

“I don’t want to conclude it was the Minister, the spreadsheet, it is prepared and it is handed to her. I am only in receipt of the names I don’t know what is the process the then Minister used,” said Grogan.

The three-member COI has been appointed by President David Granger to review the entire working service including the  working conditions, salaries and wages, methods of recruitment and possible increase in the retirement age.

Under the chairmanship of Professor Harold Lutchman, the other commissioners are Samuel Goolsarran and Sandra Jones.