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Statement on Change of National Authorizing Officer

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Monday, May 8, 2006


The Cabinet Secretary, Dr James Fletcher, issued the following statement on the appointment of a new National Authorizing Officer:


Wilfred Pierre is not the first NAO appointed by the Government of Saint Lucia, and neither is he the first to be changed. Mr. Dwight Venner, Mr. Ausbert d’Auvergne, Mr. Cletus Springer, Mr. Bernard La Corbiniere and Mrs. Alison King Joseph have all served successfully as NAOs. So the changing of an NAO is not new, neither is it unusual.


The NAO is not a position on the Permanent Establishment. It is a position designated by the Prime Minister to allow the holder to fulfil responsibilities under the various Memoranda of Understanding between the Government and the European Commission. Prior to a few years ago, this position was not a paid position. The NAO, prior to Mr. Wilfred Pierre, was a Permanent Secretary who carried out his or her responsibilities, in addition to his/her normal public service duties, and did not receive any additional financial benefit. Two or three years after assuming the position of NAO, Mr. Pierre requested that the European Commission Delegation pay him an honorarium, on top of the salary that he receives from his substantive Grade 19 position of Director of Special Projects Initiatives, and this request was granted.


The European Union is the largest single donor of grant funds to the Government of Saint Lucia. Therefore, the programming of these funds has a very direct and significant impact on the national Budget process. Unfortunately, because of the location of the Office of the NAO in the Office of the Prime Minister, there has been a disconnect between the work of that office and the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, the senior programme officers in the Office of the NAO are mostly senior officers in the Ministry of Finance, and their period of secondment to the NAO’s Office has come to an end. Therefore, in order to ensure that there is greater congruence between the work of the Office of the NAO and the national Budget process, the Office of the NAO was shifted on 1st March, 2006 out from under the responsibility of the Office of the Prime Minister and placed under the responsibility of the Director of Budget in the Ministry of Finance. This shift also allows the senior programme officers in the NAO’s office to continue to function as Programme Officers in the relocated NAO’s Office.


It stands to reason, therefore, that the new NAO should be someone appointed to a position in the Office of the Director of Budget in the Ministry of Finance.


The new NAO will be Mr. Donovan Williams, who is a trained sociologist, an experienced public administrator, having served as Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Transformation, and who acquired significant experience with the requirements of donor agencies during his tenure as Executive Director of the Poverty Reduction Fund. Mr. Pierre will revert to his substantive Public Service position as Director of Special Projects Initiatives and will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of Cabinet decisions and reporting to Cabinet on the implementation of critical Capital projects, consistent with the job description of his position.


The Head of the EU Delegation in Barbados has been informed of these changes and in addition to welcoming the placement of the NAO’s Office under the Ministry of Finance, he has agreed to visit Saint Lucia at the end of this month to hold comprehensive discussions with the new NAO on Saint Lucia’s EU grant portfolio, including a few time-sensitive matters on which the NAO’s Office has been a bit tardy to respond.

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