Minister with responsibility for Information and the Public Service, Arthur Williams today responded to concerns raised by the Jamaica Civil Service Association regarding the candidacy in the next elections of the Chief Executive Officer of Caymanas Track Limited and generally, the potential candidacy of other persons presently employed in the public sector.
Minister Williams said that the Staff Orders of the Public Service specifically prohibits persons employed in central government from “engaging in any type of partisan political activity in any elections at any level”. No such prohibition exists however in respect of persons employed in statutory bodies and government owned companies.
He said however, that notwithstanding that there is no such prohibition for persons employed in parastatal entities, the longstanding rule has been that persons do not engage in political activity while holding office in the wider public service, where such engagement could result in a conflict of interest or is likely to result in persons acting with partiality in carrying out their public duties.
Minister Williams said that the office of the Commissioner of Customs falls within central government, but there is no evidence that despite any courting from the governing party, the Commissioner of Customs has embarked upon engagement in political activity.
He said further that neither the office of Chief Executive Officer of the government-owned company Caymanas Track Limited, nor the office of Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority fall within central government, hence the prohibition does not apply.
The Information and Public Service Minister said that in respect of the Chief Executive Officer of the government-owned company Caymanas Track Limited and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, the question would be whether there is any conflict of interest in the persons holding these offices, while seeking to be candidates for the governing party. Minister Williams said that no such conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest, can be established, as none exists. Neither is there any evidence of these persons acting with partiality in carrying out their public duties.
Minister Williams said that indeed there is a written opinion of the Attorney General provided in 2002, which specifically stated that Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett was not disqualified from remaining as the Senior Veterinarian at the Jamaica Racing Commission, upon his election as a Member of Parliament in 2002, as there was no conflict of interest between his duties as Senior Veterinarian and his role and functions as a Member of Parliament. With equal force it can be argued therefore, that Miss Buchanan’s intention to seek political office is not in conflict with her role as Chief Executive Officer of the horseracing company.
The Information and Public Service Minister said that the JCSA's claim that the employment of Miss Camille Buchanan at Caymanas Track Limited is in breach of the Staff Orders, is therefore factually incorrect.