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EDITORIAL: Message Is Loud And Clear, Change Mindset

The message from the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday, was loud and clear. Public servants must change their mindset and lift their performance to bring it up to par with
18 Apr 2015 10:45
EDITORIAL: Message Is Loud And Clear, Change Mindset

The message from the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday, was loud and clear. Public servants must change their mindset and lift their performance to bring it up to par with the expectations of the Government public service reforms.

At the FRCA CEO Forum in Suva, Mr Bainimarama highlighted some areas that need improvement in their service delivery.

It appears not only Mr Bainimarama is talking about a real problem in the public service. Delegates at Wednesday’s Naitasiri Provincial Council meeting echoed similar sentiments.

Mr Bainimarama revealed in some instances, FRCA had failed companies and individuals.

He said: “Some have been treated in a high-handed manner. And decisions or rulings have been inconsistent and there has been a lack of transparency.

“Worse, some investigations, audits and decisions have been influenced by prejudices based on ethnicity, gender, religion or socio-economic status.

“FRCA’S job is to be enthusiastic in raising the revenue that we require as a nation for our programme of service delivery.

“But that enthusiasm should not extend to behaving in an inappropriate or unlawful manner. And to those Fijian companies, individuals and indeed foreign companies who have just cause to be aggrieved, you deserve redress.”

If big organisations can be treated like this, imagine the ordinary people like Sosicieni Moce from Nabobuco in the interior of Naitasiri. While he might not have had any dealings with FRCA the principle is the same.

In an effort to seek some relief for their electricity needs he had visited Government and quasi-Government offices in the Central and Western Division. His case is probably in a file buried in a heap of papers in an office and forgotten.

He vented his frustrations saying he only stopped trying because he ran out of cash to pay for his travel. His story represents a common experience recounted by many grassroot people.

The Bainimarama Government has tried to address this problem. But it found that because it is widespread in the civil service, it necessitated a comprehensive public service reforms to eliminate a deep-seated culture of poor and unprofessional attitude to service delivery, abuse and corruption.

The Auditor-General’s reports highlight this malaise annually. The reforms therefore, are long overdue. Hopefully, they will define a clear line of accountability in the public service.

Civil servants are there to support the Government of the day and its policies irrespective of their political affiliation.

So when the push comes to shove, it is because the Government (Political party that won the majority of seats in Parliament in the recent general election) wants its policies successfully implemented.

The FijiFirst Government has four years to deliver on its election promises.

Public servants have a professional and moral duty to deliver an efficient service as expected by their political masters. They are an important cog in the wheel of our democracy.

They are expected to be apolitical in the discharge of their responsibilities under Public Service Commission rules, to maintain the integrity of the public service.

When Mr Bainimarama said public servants were on notice to perform, the statement was made in this context because if his Government failed to deliver on its election promises voters will hold them accountable in the 2018 general election.

His Government’s policies will only work with the support of the public service. This partnership, if it works as it should be, will benefit the people.

It requires a change in mindset.

 

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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