As Permanent Secretaries across the public service prepare to take up their re-assigned portfolios on 5 October 2020, Grenada’s Prime Minister has urged them to adjust their mindset in keeping with the current environment.
At a meeting with the Permanent Secretaries on Thursday, Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, said the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic requires persons in authority to exercise greater responsibility, particularly as it relates to budgeting.
He said, “It cannot be business as usual. We have to dispel the notion that government has an unlimited pot of money. In granting approval to ministry expenditure, I ask that you apply the same principles that you would to your personal budget. In this environment of reduced revenue, there’s simply no room for arbitrary spending. As accounting officers, you must show strong leadership and the message of accountability must filter down to all staff.”
Dr Mitchell encouraged a move to bulk purchasing to generate cost savings, and cited reduced paper usage as another area for cutting government’s operational costs.
The Prime Minister also addressed the issues of communications and confidentiality. He said, “We are in the midst of restructuring the Government Information Service (GIS) and creating a Prime Minister’s Press Secretariat. Through this, we hope to bring about significant change in the level and quality of government communications. It is therefore important for the Public Relations Officers placed within ministries to become integral to the overall communications agenda and work in closer collaboration with the Press Secretariat and GIS.”
On the subject of confidentiality, Dr Mitchell referenced the recently leaked internal circular on the temporary suspension of some allowances to new hires within the public service. He said, “The breach of confidentiality is a serious issue. It is understandable that some things happen unwittingly but if a senior officer deliberately shares an internal document, this is cause for concern. Situations like this create an atmosphere of mistrust among everyone and can undermine the work environment.”
With the addition of some new Permanent Secretaries, Cabinet Secretary, Ruth Rouse, confirmed that an orientation session will be held this month to familiarise persons with their roles and responsibilities.
Thursday’s meeting generated a wealth of feedback from the various Permanent Secretaries. The comments included the need for formal training for Permanent Secretaries and greater awareness of security threats as government increases its application of available technology. The suggestion was also made for regular engagements between the Prime Minister and Permanent Secretaries, and this was welcomed by all. In wrapping up the discussions, the Prime Minister wished the Permanent Secretaries all the best in their new assignments, and he encouraged all to maintain an atmosphere of close collaboration as Government continues to spearhead the development process.
The full list of new Ministerial and Permanent Secretary assignments is provided in the attached document.
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