AGD withdraws advice regarding pension reform
The Attorney General's Department has withdrawn the advice it had given that could have eventually stalled the government's crucial pension reform agenda.
In a bombshell announcement this afternoon (June 19) Attorney General Patrick Atkinson disclosed that the advice was given earlier this month, without his knowledge and approval.
He told Parliament that the advice came from a lawyer, on behalf of the Attorney General's Chambers, but declined to name the lawyer.
Mr. Atkinson, who is the government's chief lawyer, said he did not even know that the state requested advice on its proposed pension reform, from as far back as 2010.
He also disclosed that his predecessor Ransford Braham and the Acting Solicitor General, were similarly kept in the dark, regarding the advice.
The unnamed lawyer advised that the proposed amendments to the pension scheme would be in breach of the employment contract, between government and its employees.
The advice would spell trouble for government's plans to undertake pension reform, which was a major requirement of an earlier agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Mr. Atkinson announced that the opinion dated June 8 should be withdrawn, as it does not consider government's power to always act in the public's interest, despite its contract with its workers.
He says he is prepared to answer any further questions on the matter, during tomorrow's session of the Joint Select Committee, appointed to consider and report to Parliament on pension reform.
Meanwhile, Attorney General, Patrick Atkinson, was forced to defend the credibility of his department this afternoon, amid blistering criticisms from Opposition members of Parliament.
The MP's raised concern, after Mr. Atkinson informed Parliament, that the department he heads, had given government faulty advice, regarding the administration's proposed pension reform.
He said the advice was given, without his input and approval.
Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck describes the situation as a most untidy state of affairs, even as he questions if there is a disconnect in the Attorney General's chambers.
Those views expressed by Opposition Spokesman on Justice Delroy Chuck, were echoed by MP for South-West St. Catherine, Everald Warmington.
Mr. Warmington asked what action the Attorney General will take, regarding the breach, which he says, is an indictment on the Attorney General's Department.
In response to the criticisms, the Attorney General sought to assure the Parliament that there will not be a reoccurrence of what he describes, as an aberration.