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GPSU dismayed at Ramsarup's customs appointment
-says he should step down

Chabilall Ramsarup

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) is alarmed and dismayed at the appointment of retired colonel Chabilall Ramsarup as Head of the Customs and Trade Adminis-tration (CTA) and says he should do the right thing and step down.

"We are concerned about the unsuitability of Colonel Ramsarup to function effectively in this office since he has no previous association or experience in this department which he is appointed to head, as required by the job description known to us," the GPSU said in a statement read at a press conference yesterday.

"In addition we are concerned that Ms Ingrid Griffith, who has been acting as Commissioner, was overlooked for appointment…," the GPSU said. It added that during the period Griffith acted she not only performed effectively, but "revenue targets of the department were exceeded" by hundreds of millions of dollars.

"In our view it was reasonable to expect that Ms Griffith would, in the circumstances, have been seriously considered for appointment as [Lambert] Marks' [Commis-sioner of Customs] successor," the statement said.

The union also expressed the concern that no rationale or reasonable explanation has been given for her not being considered. And it hinted that the reason she was overlooked might be political or because of her gender or her race. "These questions must be asked," the union said, adding "one must take a deep look at the blatant and insensitive political conduct of the administration when dealing with matters involving the national interest, when efficiency and effectiveness should be the major criteria for preferment."

The union said it had nothing personal against Ramsarup, rather its concern was with the frustration of the legitimate expectations of Griffith and others in "the apparent lack of transparency, fairness and equity in this case."

It said the manner in which the appointment was made created an undesirable precedent. "There was no advertisement; no invitation to applicants; no interviewing; no regard shown for the serving staff. It was all done in a clandestine manner," the statement said.

It added that the appointment undermines the legitimate expectations of those who are competent to be favoured on the grounds of meritorious service, and advance within the hierarchy of the department on this basis. It is also capable of having a serious deleterious effect on morale throughout the GRA and the public service.

GPSU President Patrick Yarde said there was no consultation with the union before Ramsarup's appointment and if Ramsarup does not do the right thing and step down, then he is also complicit in the irregularity.

He said Ramsarup did not have the requirements set out for the post of Commissioner of Customs, which calls for, among other things, ten years experience in Customs work and thorough knowledge of the Customs and tax laws. Moreover, he said that convention dictates that if a person serves for at least a year in an acting capacity, he or she, once unfettered by complaints about his/her performance, could move up.