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Does the SACC President “have a handle” on his Committee?

Does the SACC President “have a handle” on his Committee?

Thursday 22 February 2024

Does the SACC President “have a handle” on his Committee?

Thursday 22 February 2024


Deputy Carl Meerveld has come under fire for pinning difficulties in fulfilling his Committee’s mandate on a lack of resource, specifically the absence of a supporting officer.

He presides over the States Assembly and Constitution Committee (SACC) and gave an update on its work during this week’s meeting [21 February].

His statement started with allusions to capacity issues as Deputy Meerveld gave a somewhat positive update on the work being done. 

I believe that the Committee has achieved a great deal in the 12 months since my last update statement, particularly as it operates with very limited resources and budget. 

The statement was shortly followed up with an extended period of questioning, where deputies pried out difficulties faced by the Committee. 

Capacity issues were first raised during questioning by Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller, who asked: “What has the Committee done in terms of executing against itmandate... [specifically in regard to the] provision of support to members and the practical functioning of the states of deliberation? 

In responding, Deputy Meerveld said the Committee hadn’t looked at that part of the mandate, "considering our limited resources at SACC, as our single officer is currently signed off sick".

When he discussed a regular review of the rules of procedure he once again spoke about his one and only officer “going off on long term sick leave”. 

 Deputy Carl Meerveld

Pictured: Deputy Meerveld is the President of SACC. 

The reference to the officer was a point of concern for Deputy Kazanteseva-Miller, who asked if consistently referring to the absent officer was a data protection concern. 

"The President has on several occasions released what could be considered... sensitive information in relation to the single officer, outlining that they have a medical long term sickness condition. 

Would the President agree that he should refrain from mentioning or releasing any kind of information in such a public setting, and that instead of hiding behind the resource issue, which seems to be a single point of failure for this Committee to actually deliver on their mandate, to work together with P&R and the civil service to actually deliver on their mandate this term." 

In response, Deputy Meerveld said he hadn’t mentioned anyone by name but “we shouldn't have any Committee of the States left in a situation where a single person goes off long term... and they are left with zero resources”. 

Deputy Dave Mahoney chose to pick up on the continued reference to a missing officer by suggesting that another officer has been switched out to support SACC and “the litany of excuses we've had so far, just simply doesn't wash its face. 

Deputy Meerveld said the suggestion of a “switched out” officer was incorrect:Deputy Mahoney is incorrect. Whilst we have an officer being lent to us on a part time basis, what we don't have is an officer with a full-time commitment to SACC. 

He went on to say later in debate that the Committee essentially has zero officers, to which Deputy Mahoney argued that he’d had a “face to face” conversation with an officer who’d been moved to SACC. 

"I suggest that Deputy Mahoney does go back and speak to that individual,” said Deputy Meerveld,I think he is misinformed that they've been allocated to us 100%.” 

When asked how SACC will be able to address the issues raised in debate, Deputy Meerveld said: “The senior civil servants are aware and senior management team are aware of the issues.  

They know that we have an election looming and that we require more resources to be able to deliver on these things and I'm confident that we will be given the resources we require because we simply cannot deliver without them. 

 States_building_shiny.jpg

Pictured: SACC is responsible primarily for the functioning of the States of Deliberation and for preparing the island for elections. 

Deputy Victoria Oliver said the content of the Q&A raised serious concerns about how Deputy Meerveld was handling his Committee. 

"Hearing the answers to all these questions I'm actually seriously concerned that the President doesn't have a handle on SACC and particularly when it comes to the general election... are you actually capable of delivering this document? 

"I am more than capable of delivering on this, as is my Committee,” Deputy Meerveld said in response, while admitting that the Committee was in “a bit of a bind”. 

Deputy Inder concluded by asking SACC to seek help. 

"It seems we've got issues regarding the delivery of our democracy,” he said. 

"We have concerns about his leadership and the delivery of democracy and he's hiding, again, behind lack of resources and the senior leadership team.  

Can he commit to writing directly to the head of Policy and Resources... to ensure that Deputy Meerveld doesn't fail the island.” 

The SACC President retorted by arguing that he isn’t hiding behind anyone, but that he was quite happy to write to the head of P&R. 

We will deliver what's required on time because we have to, because it's required. But I can't give you exact dates until I know what we've got to work with.

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