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Public Service Union cautiously supports proposed new chair of Public Service Commission

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2022. 9:20 pm CST.

>By Aaron Humes: Diana Murillo Price is on her way out of the Prime Minister’s Office after a career in the Public Service, but according to Prime Minister John Briceño, she has agreed following her formal retirement in a few weeks to become chair of the Public Service Commission.

As announced by the Cabinet last week, “… after accepting to serve as the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Cresencio Sosa, Sr. requested that his name be withdrawn from the post due to illness.”

Sosa was the first formal nomination to the post following the retirement of Charles Gibson earlier this year; an earlier proposal of Moises Cal as chair was quickly shot down amid reminders of alleged illegal activity during his time as a diplomat based in Panama.

Last week the Prime Minister said the Government would “take its time” to find the right person – and avoid persons directly connected to the ruling party – and that he personally interviewed Murillo Price, who said she would be “honoured” to take on the role, and that the Leader of the Opposition would be written to for his input. (It has been noted that Murillo Price is a niece of the late Right Honourable George Cadle Price).

Alfredo Cruz, nominated by the Public Service Union (PSU), was discarded as according to the Prime Minister, certain unnamed “issues” would prevent his nomination. He further chided Union President Dean Flowers, whom he said “needs to understand what is his role. If he wants to name those names, then he can be elected and become a leader of a party and then become the Prime Minister. They can make recommendations and if he would only be a little bit more respectful, I think he could get a lot more done.”

Today Flowers hit back in relation to Cruz, saying, “I dare [the Prime Minister] to come out and publicly say what that is, because to the best of our knowledge, no such issue, any issue, was uncovered.” He continued that he was not surprised that the recommendation was not considered, which he said was due to the “immaturity and pettiness of the holder of the office of Prime Minister.”

That cattiness aside, Flowers did note that after a 40-year career in the Public Service, Murillo Price returned on contract after initial retirement as an administrative officer in the Prime Minister’s office as unearthed by the Opposition United Democratic Party’s Guardian newspaper, which is outside her career path and the service’s established succession system.

But that appears to be her only sin and was under the previous administration, so Flowers says the PSU will give her a chance: “I’m pleased to hear that she now recognizes that it is time for her to exit the Public Service and to serve in another capacity and we certainly want to wish her the best if it is that she is appointed and accepts to serve as chair of the Public Service Commission. She enjoys our support and we hope for the best.” He added that she should avoid political entanglement and fulfil her duties under the Constitution.

And she will have a lot on her plate. The Prime Minister did concede that there are a number of outstanding issues including promotion and discipline of public officers and approval of pension and gratuity for retired public officers: “No, I agree. Trust me; I understand the issue of trying to address that matter. We have a number of public officers that have retired and they need their money. So we want to get it done. As soon as Ms. Murillo takes over that position, trust me we’ll ensure that we can get that done as quickly as we possibly can, but we want to make sure that we find the right person.”


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