–efforts ongoing to fix situation, says Greenidge
AMID complaints from several Guyana consulate offices, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge said efforts are ongoing to ensure all that Foreign Service locations are properly staffed.
Speaking with reporters on Saturday, Greenidge said requests have been made to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for posts to be established and filled but noted that the process is not moving fast enough.
“Truth is of course that the Ministry as a whole has an establishment which needs to be adjusted to accommodate the mandate it has and two sets of things are happening: that the request to the Public Service Commission for posts to be established and for posts to be filled are quite a long way behind our needs and so it is true but we have been trying to find means of hurrying them up.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister alluded to the problems at the Commission and noted that it “has not been easy”. He posited that the Commission needs to be considerably revamped and noted that the skill-set needed for those who wish to enter the Foreign Service needs to be revisited.
“I would not even say it is outdated… it is irrelevant. We require them to look carefully at the request and I am sure that may be part of the reason for the delay, in addition to the changing of the personnel in the Public Service Commission itself.”
Greenidge stressed that the modern diplomatic service has to be staffed by persons who possess a relatively wide range of skills. “Officers are being asked to look at human rights issues, asked to vote and advise us on issues that have to do with biodiversity, which is not a political issue as such. At least when the matters are raised they need to have some basic understanding of the implication of some of these things, from the science angle we need persons who can read maps, geographers and so forth and so the ministry and its staff need to be considering that.”
Additionally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs made it clear that all of these factors need to be taken into consideration when hiring persons for posts within the Foreign Service.
NEED TO BE KNOWLEDGEABLE
He said too that those applicants need to be knowledgeable in foreign language while noting that “languages are also a disgrace in this country as regards the range of languages taught in schools and the competence that the ministry receives”.
Minister Greenidge made it clear that those who are not versed in foreign languages are required to learn same on the job. He noted that applicants with foreign languages will be given priority over those without.
“We recognise of course this means that in a number of instances people are going to be doubling up and there will be scale backs in the missions but we (are) working on it,” he said, noting that it is a matter of urgency for the Government and more particularly his Ministry.
The minister told reporters that President David Granger, and Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who has responsibility for the Public Service, and other members of Cabinet are aware of the situation.
“One would expect that as soon as the PSC gets itself together they will move…” said Greenidge.
Meanwhile, in May, the Foreign Affairs Minister said upon entering office following the May 2015 General and Regional Elections, it was discovered that there were many deficiencies in the Foreign Service.
As such, given the shortfall, efforts are being made to boost the capacity of the Ministry and its representatives.
Given the constraints, the administration is compelled to hire qualified and experienced persons who will serve the country’s interest both locally and overseas.
Additionally, the revival of the Foreign Service Institute has also been identified as critical to building the capacity of the Foreign Service staff. The institute does not only aim to guide the development of professional skills, but the programmes delivered would also guide the implementation of a foreign policy that is in keeping with the new emerging world environment.