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Tribute to Sir Carlisle

This tribute to Sir Carlisle Burton was made by Selwyn P. Smith, former permanent secretary of Government and Head of CARICAD ahead of his funeral which took place on Tuesday at St. Mary’s Anglican Church.

Sir Carlisle was one of the most outstanding administrators of his time. He served for nearly two decades as permanent secretary and ultimately as head of the Civil Service. He was highly respected nationally, regionally, internationally as a public administrator and he made an indelible mark on the Public Service of Barbados.

Sir Carlisle was indeed an innovator and served at a time when the permanent secretary was clearly the administrative head of the Ministry within the context of a professional Civil Service.

He spanned the pre-independence and post independence period. He made continuous efforts to improve the public service of Barbados and among other things, he set up the Organisation and Management Division, back in the 70s, to seek to improve public sector management: to make the public service more efficient and effective. He also piloted the paper through the CARICOM Heads of Government to set up the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration which was to improve public administration at the regional level.

Sir Carlisle upheld the tenets of a professional Civil Service and he earned the respect of the Prime Ministers he served as well as the Ministers to whom he was assigned. He served with three of the most distinguished leaders of our time: Sir Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow, and H.M.G Tom Adams.

He was a quiet, unassuming man but there is absolutely no doubt what a tremendous impact this quiet giant had on the public service of Barbados and the strong and abiding influence which has remained. He can hardly be duplicated and his achievements are numerous. In whatever area he worked, the library, the government printing department, the ministry, he made a difference. His memoirs, which are due out, shall surely confirm this.

I had the good fortune to work with Sir Carlisle at different times of my career: early when he was setting up the Ministry of Education, and then again when he was setting up the Organisation and Management Division and later when we worked on setting up the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration in Barbados.

His passing heralds the end of an era and makes us stop, think and quantify his achievements and his contribution to the public service of Barbados and one can only conclude that it is surely unrivalled.

May he rest in peace. The likes of him may never be seen again. I shall surely miss him for his wise counsel and for his calm and respectful approach to all matters.

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