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Creed’s attorney on absence from office: He sought permission
An attorney representing the Permanent Secretary in the Sport Ministry is insisting his client, Ashwin Creed, has done no wrong in going on leave and seeking extended leave. But head of the Public Service Reynold Cooper yesterday presented the PS vacation leave protocol, which showed the rules may not have been followed. Cooper, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, said Creed's approved vacation leave ended on May 23 and he was due to return to work on May 26.
Cooper also said, “I received a letter from the Ministry of Sport dated June 9 indicating that the Minister of Sport has agreed to PS Creed proceeding on additional leave from May 24 to June 30.” Earlier, at a news conference at his office on Borde Street, Port-of-Spain, attorney Peter Taylor, a former Legal Affairs Minister, said his client, Creed, went on leave on May 13, which was due to end on May 23, but instead sought further leave to June 30. He said Cooper was aware of Creed’s absence from the country since last month.
Taylor said newspaper reports about Creed’s alleged unauthorised leave were just mischief, and Creed had done no wrong and had not breached any law. Saying he had called the news conference to “set the record straight” on Creed’s absence from the country, Taylor said on June 3, Creed “was in communication with PS to the Prime Minister and head of the Public Service, Mr Cooper, indicating that he required more (leave) time.”
Taylor said it was not the responsibility of the head of the Public Service or the Public Service Commission to approve leave for any permanent secretary, but said the PS must seek the approval of his line minister, adding that once the minister expresses no objection it is then transmitted to the head of the Public Service and leave is granted. Taylor said the head of the Public Service must be informed when a PS was going on leave in order to appoint someone to act during the period of absence.
He claimed that media reports suggesting that Creed’s leave was unauthorised, and that he had left because of an audit on the Life Sport programme, had tarnished his client’s name. Taylor said Creed went abroad to deal with legitimate personal business and had extended his leave because it was taking longer than originally anticipated.
He also dismissed reports that suggested Creed’s absence was linked to the probe into the Life Sport initiative. Taylor said Creed left the country long before any probe was commissioned by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and Creed had previously subjected himself to two audits in the ministry.
PS vacation protocol
Cooper told the T&T Guardian yesterday the approved protocol required a permanent secretary to write to his or her line minister asking for vacation leave for a specified number of days and a specified period. The minister would then indicate that he or she had no objection. Cooper said that application would then be sent to the ministry's human resource unit to be checked against the PS's leave eligibility and the HR unit would then inform the PS that the vacation leave had been approved.
He said the PS “would then write to the PS in the Office of the Prime Minister indicating that the minister has agreed to the vacation leave being taken during the specified period.”
The PS should also indicate that the next most senior person (a name and position would be stated) should be recommended to act as PS during the vacation leave. The PS in the Office of the Prime Minister would then write to the Service Commissions Department informing it of the PS's leave and that the named senior officer was recommended to act as PS during that period.
The PS, OPM would also write to the Ministry of Finance and the Economy recommending the named senior officer as the accounting officer during the specified period.