Letters to the Editor

AG and pension reform

Friday, June 22, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

The current pension scheme has been shown to be unsustainable, hence the need for public sector pension reform, which is also a prerequisite for a new IMF agreement. Given its unsustainability, it is in the national interest and also in the interest of individuals that the reform be undertaken.

Initial advice from the attorney general's department cautioned that the government's proposal for pension reform would be a breach of workers' contracts. Therefore, the critical question arises: If passengers aboard a ship were to be informed that it is sinking, should they stay on board and perish with it, or seize the option of sailing to shore in a smaller boat?

It is not insurmountable but quite feasible for all stakeholders to meet, discuss, renegotiate and reach a mutually beneficial agreement on public sector pension reform. Of note, the attorney general has withdrawn the initial legal advice from his department, giving the government more room to manoeuvre.

This is, indeed, a strange and worrisome development. The legal advice on public sector pension reform, which is a matter of national priority, was sought two years ago from the Attorney General's Department. Given the importance and magnitude of the impact this legal advice would have for the nation, it is only reasonable to expect that there would be direct input, review and seal of approval by the attorney general of any conclusive advice that would be forthcoming on this crucial matter.

But the attorney general revealed that he was made aware of this all-important legal advice only via the media!

The AG, Patrick Atkinson, is an eminent Queen's Counsel - a legal luminary with distinguished service. His legal competence is beyond question. But these developments naturally raise questions concerning his leadership and managerial competence, in a similar manner that it is easily acknowledged that the best or even an outstanding player on a team will not automatically make a good captain.

In giving the AG the benefit of any doubt, it would then appear that there were subordinates who either inadvertently or intentionally undermined or usurped his authority. This could reduce public confidence, because recent developments have not portrayed the AG and the department in the most favourable light.

Daive R Facey




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