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PSC responds to allegations made by former Minister of Agriculture

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 27/11/2019

The former Minister Losaline Ma’asi says the Public Service Commission PSC contacted her regarding the extension of Dr. Viliami Manu’s contract as CEO of the Ministry of Agriculture and she recommended PSC not to extend it. Ma’asi said, the CEO was not helpful and was not co-operating with her when she needed help.

However, Simione Sefanaia the Chairman of the commission said, MAFF CEO’s contract was extended in accordance with the law. The assessment of a CEO’s performance is conducted by the Commission, in consultation with the Minister.

As CEO, Dr. Manu’s annual assessment process included submitting his performance report to the former Minister. This gave her the opportunity to comment on his work and to endorse or not to endorse. Dr. Manu’s report was duly submitted to the former Minister. The legal process requires the Minister and the CEO to jointly discuss the report. The former Minister did not meet with the CEO to discuss the report and the former Minister failed to submit it to the Commission in time. Six weeks past the deadline, and just before she had physically vacated her Ministerial office, she finally gave the CEO PMS report to the PSC, stating her dissatisfaction with the CEO’s performance.

The former Minister did not give the CEO the opportunity to discuss her dissatisfaction with his performance report, a requirement of natural justice at law. Still, PSC considered her comments.

However, PSC considered other performance measures routinely used for the overall assessment of all CEOs. This includes the MAFF’s procurement performance, budget performance, HR performance, Revenue targets, Ombudsman report, HR and Audit records. All these performance indicators clearly showed that the MAFF CEO was performing well. The PSC also conducted an in-depth interview with the CEO as part of the normal process, and he also confirmed in detail the performance and work of the Ministry.

The passing away of the late Hon PM during that week stalled any decision making on the subject, and the change in the leadership through a new Prime Minister, who was also to be PSC’s Minister meant that processes were put on hold, including significant decisions on appointments. When the new Minister came on board, it was the responsibility of the Commission as required by law to inform him of the matter, and for him to make an informed decision on the issue.

© Radio and Television Tonga News