…optimistic of recommendations for improving agencyThe Natural Resources Ministry has hit back against suggestions that the task force Government established to reform the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has nefarious political motives.The Guyana Forestry Commission head office, Kingston, GeorgetownAccording to the Ministry in a statement, the task force’s mandate will be to reorganise and restructure the Commission, which has been plagued by criticisms over administrative concerns and complaints from staff.“The Ministry of Natural Resources has taken note of the letters and commentaries regarding the functioning of the task force and wishes to reiterate the Cabinet’s direction on this matter … The task force’s mandate shall include, but will not be limited to, an examination and evaluation of current job descriptions and performance standards, personnel procedures, conditions of employment and appointment, wages and salary structures and payroll administration,” the statement said.“It will further aim at improving the efficient performance and effective management of the Commission by identifying training and development opportunities for staff. The task force is expected to submit to the Minister of Natural Resources a work schedule with timelines and a preliminary report that would complete this assignment no later than July 2019. “According to the Ministry, the task force was established in keeping with the national objective of moving towards a ‘green’ economy and the consequent realignment of critical agencies of the State. As such, the proposal for the restructuring of the GFC was approved by Cabinet.“Consequently, a task force has been established jointly between the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Board of Directors of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) to address the reorganising and restructuring of the Forestry Commission. ““The task force will include the technical and administrative talent and personnel of the MNR, the Board, and the Commission, who will examine the structure and functioning of the GFC to make recommendations to the Minister of Natural Resources Hon Raphael GC Trotman, who, in turn, is mandated to present a report to Cabinet.”According to the statement, the Convener of the Task Force is the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Project Coordinator Clayton Hall.“The Ministry expects that this addresses misguided remarks about the task force having an ulterior and devious political purpose, and clears up any uncertainties and awaits the preliminary report and work schedule,” it added.There have been letters written by staff of the GFC, who have expressed concern over the restructuring effort. In one such letter, the staff member wrote that when Hall was confronted with probing questions during an April 26 meeting with staff, the meeting ended abruptly.“Several GFC staff asked questions that were of high concern on the minds of staff: would the monitoring division and resources management divisions be merged as pre-empted by Hall’s early submission of his desired structure of the GFC? Would staff be dismissed and left hopeless and helpless?“What would happen to the families of these staff? Is it a witch-hunting exercise aimed at getting rid of specific persons? Is the committee experienced in human resources management to undertake a task such as this? And finally, how were the members of the task force chosen and is there a clear terms of reference for the committee’s work?”According to the staff, a showdown ensued during which Hall was asked by Commissioner James Singh to withdraw certain comments made in the meeting to staff, who were also on the verge of walking out.