Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley delivers the feature address during the official opening of Nutrimix Next Generation Hatchery facility, in Couva, yesterday.

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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has suggested that private sector experts should be considered for Permanent Secretary posts as he expressed his concerns that the best people are not always the ones appointed to the position.

Dr Rowley made this suggestion at the opening of Nutrimix’s Next Generation Hatchery in Couva yesterday, while lamenting the archaic system of the Public Service.

“There’s a huge suite of decision-making in this country that needs to be modernised, starting with how does one become a permanent secretary,” he said, noting that during his many tenures in government, the poor decision-making at the top of ministries lead several projects to become stagnant or discarded.

He pointed to his previous tenure as Minister of Housing as he detailed delays that could start from picking land to building a house all the way to the handover of keys to the homeowner.

“I can tell you, getting houses built from the idea of where you gonna build it to handing someone a key, you have no idea the amount of slow walking that could take place and the molasses rate that can apply to the decision-making that’s taking place. And that usually comes from a lack of vision in the Public Service because many of the decision-makers do not associate themselves with the outcome of their day’s work. The things are disconnected,” said the Prime Minister.

He said this lack of awareness stemmed from the fact that the vast majority of permanent secretaries were not experts in their ministries, but simply those who ascended based on their seniority.

“Many of them are not managers and do not assume managerial responsibility for the departments that they head that impact so importantly, on the day-to-day lives of persons whether you are an investor or consumer. And we require some significant changes in the public service of the 21st Century,” he said, acknowledging that there would be some who would chastise his position based on the constitution.

The Prime Minister said, “The constitution that was written for us in 1962 in many areas is wholly inappropriate for a Trinidad and Tobago in the 21st Century—2022. If I tell you now that it is my view that permanent secretaries should not only come from those who come up and float up to the top in the Public Service but should also come from managers in the private sector who are hired into the public service to bring management skills to the Public Service,” he said.

“If I tell you that is my view, wait and hear what I’m being accused of,” he continued.

He added that while the Nutrimix facility was a great step towards reducing the number of imported chickens needed in Trinidad and Tobago, he said there was also the possibility that the facility could be used to export chickens to our CARICOM neighbours.

However, he believed there was so much bureaucracy in the public service currently, that opportunity could be lost.

“How does this investment satisfy Trinidad and Tobago and not be available to supply Grenada, St Vincent, Dominica, Barbados and other people who are in a similar situation within CARICOM, where we fight for the single market and economy. Is it that this investment is only for Trinidad and Tobago?” he said.

“Then you find out that if you try not to export any of this to the neighbouring islands, you come up against antiquated laws and a Public Service that is not prepared to be the can-do exponents to get us to export some of this to our neighbours.”

The Prime Minister said, however, he had set about getting an advisor for the Ministry of Agriculture in a bid to maximise projects such as the hatchery.