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Public Servants told to ‘get on with job’

Public Servants told to ‘get on with job’

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Public servants have been urged to effectively carry out the government’s policies and not allow their own political views to hinder them from doing their jobs.{{more}}

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a symposium on government’s 2009 fiscal programme, held last Tuesday, January 27, at the Methodist Church Hall, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that while the vast majority of public servants are efficient, there are some who allow their differences with the government to stand in the way of their performance.

“…there are some who cannot yet understand that elections, democratic elections, have consequences,” he said.

Dr Gonsalves told the audience, which included top civil servants and public officers, including permanent secretaries and heads of statutory bodies, that government has articulated a clear set of policies, as part of its vision for the way forward, which must be carried out.

“It behooves all of us in the public service to carry out the policies of a government which is democratically elected and upon which we have already established a consensus in the country,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, said that his urging does not prevent public servants from raising particular issues about the “efficacy of this or that specific solution which is proposed and to suggest alternatives”, but stressed that once a decision is made, “the decision must be implemented.”

He again called on public servants and persons working in state enterprises to step up their game.

“We cannot work in a leisurely manner in a small developing country, and we absolutely cannot do it when we are suffering from an economic fall-out from the worst economic crisis of international capitalism for 80 years.”

“These days have to be long and productive.”

The Prime Minister stressed the need for small things to be addressed efficiently in the various sectors of government.

He noted that while the problems with the US and European economy is beyond our control and influence, too many things that are within our control are not addressed diligently.

Among the things he highlighted were two potholes in Kingstown that have opened up since the beginning of the year.

“There is no requirement for a formal presentation to be made on that. It is before our very eyes. We take notice of it and we fix it. And if you tell me we can’t fix two small potholes in Kingstown, then we should close down the Ministry of Works,” he said.

He also noted the issue of pilferage that has been plaguing the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and said that the hospital isn’t kept as clean as it should be.

“At the hospital, there are too many things which are going wrong and we must get them right,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that these and the other examples that he drew to the public servants’ attention show that there is room for improvement.

“‘All of these small things we must get done right,” he stressed.

While admitting that there are constraints that will affect the work of government, many of the areas that he identified are not lacking because of constraints in manpower or resources, but rather constraints in organization and effort by people charged to do the jobs.

“At the end of the day, it’s individual people, in an organized framework in solidarity with one another, who get things done,” the Prime Minister said.

He said that government intends to continue to work at the development of the tourism, agriculture and fisheries sectors, among others, while continuing to execute its policies in health and education, as the country faces the external challenges that are and will continue to affect the country’s economy.

The all-day symposium also featured short addresses by the Director General of Finance and Planning Maurice Edwards and the Chief Executive Officer of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority, Garth Saunders.

The former said that a new model is needed for the public service, saying that the classic model, developed in the early 20th century, has as its focus organizational design and control, and limits discretion.

Edwards, however, noted that the challenges facing the country today demand a public service that is: “more efficient, more effective, more productive, more transparent and more responsive.”

He said that public officials need to focus on how they can position the country to cope with the external environment it must deal with.

In the discussion sessions of the symposium, the public officials grappled with meeting the challenges of implementing policies and programmes, lifting performance in the public enterprises for development, serving the public better and getting the small things right.

The discussions were led by Edwards, Government Fiscal Advisor CI Martin, Accountant General Ingrid Fitzpatrick and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security and Finance, Godfred Pompey.

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