Attorney General's Office has given its legal opinion to the Civil Service Commission that permanent secretary posts of ministries abolished since 11 November 2008 remain automatically terminated. AG Office also noted that the Civil Service Law is formulated to have one permanent secretary in each ministry.
The legal opinion comes as no surprise. Everyone except the civil Service Commission has been saying all along that the Commission's decision to retain 2 to 3 permanent secretaries in some ministries is illegal. Article 54 (Haa) of the Civil Service Act says a Permanent Secretary's post must be created and filled in each responsible office of the government. The wording of this article and its context leaves little doubt as to its meaning: each ministry must have one and only one permanent secretary.
Having two permanent secretaries in a ministry is more than a mere cosmetic issue. It dilutes the responsibilities of a permanent secretary (PS) described in Article 55 of the Act, and weakens the line of authority from minister to PS and downwards to civil service staff.
Simply not true
In its defense Civil Service Commission has said that it is the practice in some developed countries to have more than one permanent secretary in an institution. This is misleading. In countries with posts equivalent to permanent secretaries (head of the civil service in an institution equivalent to a ministry) such posts are single. They may be supported by deputy secretaries, joint secretaries, additional secretaries, second permanent secretaries or other similar posts. But this is an entirely different matter. The permanent secretary remains one.
[For related article in Dhivehi click here]