Regulations to improve accountability and provide a regulatory framework for Government’s executive agencies were approved in the Senate, Friday (March 4).
Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, who moved the resolution – the Executive Agencies (General) Regulations Resolutions 2010- said that there was a need for regulations to effect the provisions and purposes of the Executive Agencies Act.
“It was deemed critical to the operations of executive agencies and, in particular, the administrative framework. The regulations will apply to all executive agencies established, or to be established, under the Executive Agencies Act,” she said.
The regulations cover areas such as operating principles, review and updating of framework documents, corporate principles, code of conduct, procedures for setting key performance indicators, leave entitlement and the appointment of members of advisory boards.
Clause four mandates the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to ensure that the framework documents of the agency include the entire schedule, as set out in the Act, and that it is reviewed every three years and updated, as necessary. It also ensures that the framework documents and the performance agreement provide for the CEO to comply with the financial instructions to Executive Agencies, issued by the Financial Secretary, she said.
The regulations also state that each CEO shall prepare a proposed corporate plan for the agency, to cover a minimum period of three years, and should also submit a copy of the proposed plan to the responsible Minister, Permanent Secretary and the Financial Secretary, on or before January 15 of each year, or as specified by the Financial Secretary.
Under clause seven of the regulations, each executive agency should formulate a Code of Conduct for the information and guidance of staff of the agency. The Code of Conduct should also be published in a Human Resource Manual accessible to all members of staff.
In terms of leave entitlement, each member of staff in an executive agency is entitled to a minimum of 14 days vacation leave, ten days sick leave and five days casual leave in each year. Provisions relating to leave entitlement must also be set out in the Human Resource Manual or the Code of Conduct, as the case may require of each executive agency.
Opposition Senator Navel Clarke, while supporting the regulations, was concerned that the entitlement of a minimum of 14 days vacation leave, suggests that a person entering an agency would automatically be entitled to the stated vacation leave time without having to qualify.
“Normally, you find that you earn so many days per month or per year, usually ten days. I am curious to find out, on what basis this provision is made for 14 days vacation; if it is part of a policy of the Government, or it is in the staff orders,” Senator Clarke said.
Government Senator Ian Murray also commented that a five-year strategic review would not be appropriate for executive agencies, to maximize the benefits from their operations.
“I would like to suggest that if the corporate plan is (set for review) for three years, that the strategic review be connectively tied to the corporate plan. Five years is a little too long and too many things can happen, and I think it’s something that we need to deal with,” Senator Murray said.
The regulations require that a strategic review of the operations of each executive agency be carried out every five years.
Responding to the concerns, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams, insisted that the regulations were necessary. He said that, even if they were imperfect, they were required to be instituted in short order.
However, he assured the Senate that he would take on board all the comments that were made in the Senate, and refer them to the relevant authorities in the Ministry to ensure that they are reviewed.
CONTACT: LATONYA LINTON