Opinion

Civil Service Reform Is A Must For The Sector To Grow

The recent announcement by Attorney-General and Minister for the Public Service Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on civil service reforms is a tip of a rather massive iceberg. Previous governments had steered clear
14 Apr 2016 09:02
Civil Service Reform Is A Must For The Sector To Grow
Attorney General and Minister for Civil Aviation, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with Chairman Rajesh Punja and MD/CEO Andre Viljoen during the announcement at the Fiji Airways Hangar, Nasoso Road, Nadi yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

The recent announcement by Attorney-General and Minister for the Public Service Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on civil service reforms is a tip of a rather massive iceberg.

Previous governments had steered clear of any real attempts to reform the civil service, fearing that rocking the boat may not augur well during elections.

This led to a culture within the civil service where maybe their vision to serve the taxpayers was forgotten.

Everyone has heard of horror stories of how dealing with Government departments meant spending the entire day in queues.

For decades, this has been the norm. Even today, a number of departments are notorious for giving people the run around.

While the attitude of civil servants has often been thought of being the attitude of Government, this is not the case.

It is no secret there is frustration in the current Government over lack of performance in some levels of the civil service.

Where previous Governments, to an extent, turned a blind eye to inefficiencies, we now have World Bank providing technical assistance to this Government’s efforts to ensure that the pride and performance the civil service has lost over the years can be restored.

And, work on this has already started.

It is interesting to note that Government has seen prudent to start the reforms by taking a long hard look at the pay of civil servants. The old adage comes to mind here, which seems rather apt. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Government certainly and rightly recognises this. We cannot expect to attract competent people to work in the civil service on lousy pay. That’s a fact. Another fact is that we just cannot have people in the civil service working with an attitude that they will hide behind the masses and retire comfortably without making any difference.

Another fact is that so far too long the civil service has been politicised. For far too long civil servants have played politics behind the scene.

The technical assistance that World Bank is providing will go a long way. A reformed, well paid civil service will no doubt be the change that is very much needed if we are to progress.

There may be very good policies made on the top, but if the civil service is not on the same page as Government, then the results may not be what would be expected.

Government’s new A–Team–the new Permanent Secretaries–have a massive task ahead of them. Reforming the civil service will not be an easy, walk in the park job. But, it is nonetheless a work that needs to be done and done urgently. For the good of the nation.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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