OPINION: A-G’s Budget: Public Service Reforms Vital

This is an edited version of the writer’s script on FBC TV’s My Say programme aired on Sunday November 8. As you go through the 2016 National Budget presented by
09 Nov 2015 10:17
OPINION: A-G’s Budget: Public  Service Reforms Vital
Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

This is an edited version of the writer’s script on FBC TV’s My Say programme aired on Sunday November 8.
As you go through the 2016 National Budget presented by Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, you feel his passion about getting things done, done right and done on time.

One thing is the FijiFirst Government policies. The other thing is the implementation process.

This is the frustrating bit and no doubt the Finance Minister is going to put systems in place to address this issue.

The Beqa Police Post is a case in point. It should have been built by now but the project has been delayed because no consensus could be reached over the location.

Then we have the case of the procurement of medicine. Because of the lack of expertise we have not been able to get it right. In the end it became a costly exercise.

No doubt, these are examples of cases that the Finance Minister wants resolved as soon as possible.

They will be part of the public service reforms that are currently underway. He has made it clear that these cases are not acceptable and that service delivery should be much better.

The challenge for the FijiFirst Government is to be able to mobilise the civil service to execute its development plans and respect its policies. It is hoping that it would be able to achieve this through the public service reforms.

The FijiFirst Government is different to previous governments in policies and governance. No other government has pursued infrastructure development with the same intensity as FijiFirst.

The shift in gear should not be new to civil servants because by now they should be familiar with the Bainimarama Government before and after the general election last year. Fundamentally, civil servants are obliged to support any government that comes to power.

The practice has been part of our tradition and democracy under the British Westminster model. Civil servants show that support by the way they deliver services to the people. If they fail to perform as expected, the Government of the day or their political masters usually gets the blame.

One of the most critical relationships in democratic governance is the relationship between civil servants and politicians.

Unfortunately little attention has been paid to it. The original idea that the politicians make policies and civil servants implement them exists in theory or principle but in reality it does not always happen.

The line that separates the executive (civil servants) and the legislature (politicians) is becoming blurred. It needs to be redefined to give it a clear distinction and make the doctrine of the separation of power clearer and meaningful.

It will bring to life the principles of transparency and accountability.

Modern governments constantly face implementation failures as the biggest and most significant political problem.

These failures can be due to incompetence, negligence and lack of expertise.

Modern governments’ challenge, and that includes FijiFirst, is to find a solution. The solution is to determine where does the buck stop. Who is the boss?

We hope our relationships will not go to that extent and that the public service reforms will ensure that it does not happen.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj


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