Important Role Of Civil Servants

The role of civil servants to the Government of the day and to the people cannot be emphasised enough. In the social media we see evidence of the leakage of
24 Apr 2017 11:49
Important Role Of Civil Servants

The role of civil servants to the Government of the day and to the people cannot be emphasised enough.

In the social media we see evidence of the leakage of confidential memos and correspondence of internal Government activities by anti-Government forces and their sympathisers in the civil service. This is a major worry particularly if and when it comes to matters of serious national interest like internal security.

Recently, we saw names of some senior civil servants, on the list of applicants for SODELPA tickets for the 2018 general election.

If the civil service code is to be strictly followed, then there is a clear breach of the rules.

Civil servants are servants of the State. The State in this context means it is represented by the Government of the day.

They are obligated by law to implement the policies of the Government of the day. In this case the FijiFirst Government received the mandate from the people in the 2014 general election to govern the country until 2018 when the next general election will be held.

In general, the executive powers of the State are exercised by the Government ministers who are answerable to Parliament.

We follow many of the best traditions of the British civil service model where the civil service has no constitutional personality or responsibility separate from the duly constituted Government of the day.

In fact the civil service is set up to provide the Government of the day with advice on the formulation of the policies of the Government, to assist in carrying out the decisions of the Government, and to manage and deliver the services for which the Government is responsible. Absolute loyalty is required of civil servants. If they belong to other political persuasions, they can only express their opinions at the ballot box.

Some civil servants are also involved, as a proper part of their duties, in the processes of presentation of Government policies and decisions.

The civil service serves the Government of the day. It means the duty of the individual civil servant is first and foremost to the minister who is in charge of the department in which he or she is serving.

Each minister is responsible to Parliament for the conduct of his Department, and for the actions carried out by his Department in pursuit of Government policies or in the discharge of responsibilities laid upon him as a Minister.

A Minister is accountable to Parliament, in the sense that he has a duty to explain in Parliament the exercise of his powers and duties and to give an account to Parliament of what is done by him in his capacity as a Minister or by his Department.

Civil servants are responsible to their Ministers for their actions and conduct.

It is the duty of civil servants to serve their Ministers with integrity and to the best of their ability. In their dealings with the public, civil servants should always bear in mind that people have a right to expect that their affairs will be dealt with sympathetically, efficiently and promptly.

Civil servants must serve the duly constituted Government of the day, of whatever political complexion.

This will create confidence in a good relationship between Ministers and civil servants. The conduct of civil servants should at all times be such that Ministers and potential future Ministers can be sure that confidence can be freely given, and that the Civil Service will at all times conscientiously fulfil its duties and obligations to, and impartially assist, advise and carry out the policies of, the duly constituted Government of the day.

The determination of policy is the responsibility of the Minister.

It is the duty of the civil servant to make available to the Minister all the information and experience at his or her disposal.

Civil servants are under an obligation to keep the confidences to which they become privy in the course of their work.

Any such unauthorised disclosures, whether for political or personal motives, or for pecuniary gain, would land the offending civil servants in trouble. I hope that this has clarified some of the grey areas that affect our civil servants.

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say  on FBC’s programme 4 The Record that aired last night, April 23rd, 2017.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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