NATION

EDITORIAL : Civil Servants Play A Crucial Role For Any Government

Any Government is as good as its civil servants. No matter how great its policies may sound, if they are not implemented effectively by civil servants, they mean nothing and
29 Jul 2016 10:13
EDITORIAL : Civil Servants Play A Crucial Role For Any Government

Any Government is as good as its civil servants.

No matter how great its policies may sound, if they are not implemented effectively by civil servants, they mean nothing and reflect badly on the Government.

That’s the reality that faces any political party becoming the government after a general election.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his FijiFirst Government are finding this out in his sugar consultation visits.

Grievances brought to him by ordinary people, especially in Seaqaqa and Labasa, turn the blowtorch on some civil servants’ alleged errant behaviour and conduct.

If the claims are substantiated, the incidents should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Mr Bainimarama’s frank response is mild compared to the seriousness of some of the allegations.

It is hoped that the current civil service reforms will address this issue.

It puts pressure on permanent secretaries and managers below them to ensure that civil servants are closely and regularly monitored for accountability and transparency.

A Water Authority of Fiji officer allegedly told some residents that Government had no money to pay for much needed water tanks.

We all know that Mr Bainimarama will not say that. In fact, he will arrange for water tanks to be delivered.

That’s the way he operates. He focuses on the people’s basic needs, water, power and shelter.

Another civil servant is alleged to have said an old bore hole could not be replaced because Government had no money.

One Land Transport Authority officer allegedly told a driver that he was booking him because that was the directive from the PM.

This is unacceptable behaviour and brings the Government into disrepute.

The reason behind it is unclear but it could be attributed to incompetence, laziness, no-care attitude or political sabotage to discredit Mr Bainimarama.

The collateral damage from these incidents can have a serious impact on Government’s reputation.

That’s why civil servants must be neutral in discharging their duties even though they may not be politically aligned to Mr Bainimarama.

Their position should be the same for any party coming into power. They implement policies of the government of the day whether they like them or not.

This should be spelt out clearly in job descriptions under the reforms. They are responsible to their managers, who in turn, are responsible to the permanent secretaries. The permanent secretaries are accountable to their line ministers.

If all the processes and systems are working as they should, there would be constant and regular monitoring of all staff, from the ground up.

That would minimise the risks of civil servants going off on a different tangent and making serious and humiliating blunders.

Every four years the governing party goes to the people to ask for their mandate for another term. It will be judged on its performance.

If the people are happy, they will vote them back in. If not, they can choose a new government.

If it happens, civil servants must be prepared to make the adjustments and listen to their new political masters. They play a critical role in keeping the wheels of democracy turning.

The civil service reforms can’t come quick enough if the reports from the North are indicative of civil service attitudes.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 



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