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Evolution of Permanent Secretaries
Evolution of Permanent Secretaries in the Public Service from Colonialism to Independence

During the Colonial era in Trinidad and Tobago the Civil Service was under the control of the Colonial Secretary.

There were several Assistant Secretaries and District Wardens whose functions were to supervise the work carried out by civil servants working in different government departments.

The Assistant Secretaries worked from the Office of the Colonial Secretary in Port of Spain, while the Wardens were expected to reside in the countries for which they were responsible. The Warden’s headquarters were called District Administration.

In 1950 there was a change in the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, which provided for among other things, the appointment of Ministers charged with responsibility for Labour, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, Works, Health, Social Services, Education and Local Government. With that constitutional change, Permanent Secretaries were appointed to assist the Ministers in the proper functioning of the departments assigned to them.

The functions of the Permanent Secretaries followed the system in Britain, in which they were responsible, to a large extent for ensuring that the rules of the Exchequer and Audit Ordinance were carried out. They also served as conduits between Ministers and members of the civil service at large.

The first five Permanent Secretaries appointed came from the Civil Service. During the initial appointments they continued to report directly to the Colonial Secretary.

After Trinidad and Tobago gained its independence in 1962, Permanent Secretaries reported then to the Head of the Public Service , who invariably was also Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister.

During the pre-independence period the number of Permanent Secretaries increased simultaneously with the number of new Ministries established under the Constitution. From five (5) Permanent Secretaries in 1950, the number in 2012 now stands at thirty two (32).