Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has emphasized that the government is not responsible for employing people in the public service.
Speaking on Focus on Government and Development, last week, Skerrit noted that employment of individuals is done through the Public Service Commission.
“So, no names come to the Cabinet to say ‘Well, these are the names of people that we have to employ in a particular school, at a particular time’. That is done by the public service, and the administrators of the public service, with direct recommendations with the Public Service Union,” he elaborated. “I think it is unfair for anybody to give the impression that it is the Minister or the Prime Minister or the Cabinet that employs people in the schools, or in the Ministry of Health, or elsewhere.”
Skerrit underscored that the Cabinet’s responsibility is to ensure that the Ministry of Education has the resources to pay people who are employed within the public service.
This follows comments made last week by President of the Dominica Association of Teachers (DAT), Celia Nicholas, urging the government to review the ways in which teachers are being recruited on the island, and to refrain from placing individuals in classrooms based on likes or the receiving of votes.
Additionally, Skerrit explained that although the Prime Minister is constitutionally granted the authority to a ‘no objection’, this power is limited to certain positions within the public service, and is exercised without bias.
“The Constitution provides for the Prime Minister to give his ‘no objection’ to certain positions within the public service. And, that constitutional authority is exercised without affection or ill-will. It is done in an objective manner. So, we are not responsible for the school teachers in the classroom—the employment of them,” Skerrit said. “…even where the Constitution gives the Prime Minister the authority to give his ‘no objection’, he allows the Public Service Commission and the public servants to go ahead and employ them, with no reference to the Prime Minister.”
This “no objection” is enshrined in Section 86 (1) of the Constitution, and has been exercised by every Prime Minister since 1978.