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A parliamentary committee is suggesting that the Statutory Authority Services Commission (SCSC) should be either disbanded or given the tools it needs to be effective. The SASC is responsible for hiring and disciplining employees of statutory bodies and municipal corporations.
Those were the two options given to the Parliament by a joint select committee chaired by Independent senator Subhas Ramkhelawan. The report was presented to the Senate on Tuesday. The JSC held one meeting with officials of the commission on June 25, 2013.
After its critical examination of the issues, the JSC said in its twelfth report: “It appears to us that the commission is hampered by a number of constraints, including legislative and regulatory gaps and loopholes; outdated workflow processes and procedures; inadequate staffing; inadequate accommodation; and a lack of ICT infrastructure.” The report said such constraints have negatively affected the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of the commission.
It suggested two options. The first was to do away with the commission altogether on the basis that it is either outmoded, ineffective or redundant. The second option was to give the commission the necessary tools, resources and legislative infrastructure to enable it to properly, effectively and efficiently exercise its powers and functions.
The committee said it was disappointed to know that an “expeditious and effective disciplinary process was not in place to deal with behavioural issues, which may exist throughout the various authorities, in particular children’s homes.”
It said while the Statutory Authorities Act empowers the commission to suspend an employee, pending the determination of an investigation, the lag time between the authority’s report on the matter and the initiation of disciplinary action by the SASC may be too long, particularly as it concerned situations involving children. The JSC report noted the SASC’s ability to effectively address disciplinary matters involving non-public officers also appears to be a challenge.
It recommended that the SASC should pursue the ongoing regulatory reform process with greater alacrity and should engage the Prime Minister and the Attorney General for the purpose of establishing definitive benchmarks for the approval of recommendations with respect to amendments to the regulations and also the granting of delegated powers to entities.