Public Service Improvement
a) In relation to the above objective, it is appropriate to pay attention to the letter to Stabroek News of 16th February titled “Permanent Secretaries must strengthen their role in protecting the public purse.” The letter is recommended reading for the respective campaigners.
Not unrelated, however, was advice proffered by a most experienced Permanent Secretary as far back as two decades ago.
Comments and recommendations included the following:
– Advice which should be forthcoming from the ranks of Permanent Secretaries and technicians lack coordination and consequently cannot be as efficient as if there were an integrated approach, since most policies emanating from one Ministry tend to impact on others.
– A more effective approach therefore to the formulation of public policy could be considered, i.e., with the formulation of a Technical Advisory Council’ (or Committee) consisting of relevant Permanent Secretaries who would further collate information from their respective specialist advisors with the aim of facilitating the provision of comprehensive advice to the Cabinet, through the appropriate channels.
Submissions to Cabinet would of course vary as appropriate to the policy issue being addressed. At this point in time there is hardly convincing evidence that the Cabinet as the highest decision-making agency consistently functions as a coordinated whole.
Incidentally, no opportunity seemed to have been offered Permanent Secretaries if only to comment on the Commission of Inquiry Report on the Public Service of 2016.
b) But the need for ‘Public Service Improvement’ is much wider, and arguably, much more fundamental than as identified above. One weakness evident is the comparatively inadequate work experience of too many current Permanent Secretaries. So that insistence should be on this leadership level being strengthened through intense informational and developmental interactions at the Bertram Collins Staff College, rather than the indulgence in beginners (however bright) who cannot substantially impact on the quality of performance of any agency.
c) This organisational performance deficit is compounded by the substantive reluctance to raise the clerical cum administrative capacity of the ‘Personnel’ function to the more proactive developmental level of Human Resources Management.
In this instance, such a transition, rather than setting an example, would in fact only be making good the substantive lag when compared to the Human Resources Management Departments (and Directorates) obtaining in the very Public Sector agencies who report to the Cabinet.
In this regard, urgent attention needs to be given to upgrading the scope and authority of the Public Service Commission.
“Train more teachers to improve student – teacher ratio by expanding the existing CPCE campuses in capital towns”
Which will come first, the buildings or the training? Whichever, there is the expectation that there would be enough interested candidates for a profession that is discouragingly underpaid even if only by current comparisons. The disparity in pay will certainly be emphasised with the invasion of ‘oil and gas’ jobs that will also push private employers to upgrade conditions of employment.
It continues to puzzle why no one has paid attention to the fact that the Teachers’ Service Commission has continued to maintain a colonial hierarchy of jobs and pay for teachers; however qualified, the singular category of public servants who is required to produce and achieve measurable targets on a daily basis.
There continues to be 29 grades of teachers, as compared with 14 grades of the Public Service. Interestingly, the first and lowest grades do not attract any salary scales. Nor, for that matter does the highest grade (29) – consisting of Principal, CPCE, GTI, NATI, LTI. The latter are shown to be in a grade described as ‘Special’, but the salary is fixed for the rest of their careers, which counter-productively ends at age 55.
Meanwhile, it is credible for Temporary Qualified Master/Mistress to be regarded as Permanent and be equally eligible for a pension.
Opportunity is taken to further impose on the reader’s attention (more so while campaigning) to the Table below:
Schools Grading System
Secondary Primary Nursery
A 750 – 999 –
A 550 – 699 (750 – 999) –
B 400 – 549 B 500 – 749 –
C 250 – 399 C 250 – 499 A 250+
D Up to 249 D 100 – 249 B 150 – 249
C 60 – 149
E Up to 99 D Up to 59
On the whole, the system of rating schools in the local education system can at best be described as simplistic, suggesting for example, that the nature of responsibility of a School Head is generally measured by school population.
This results in a major contradiction, wherein occurs a substantive differential between basic remuneration paid to a ‘Graduate Head’ and that paid to a ‘Non-Graduate Head’ in relation to the same or similarly rated school.
One is left to fathom the reasoning which determines a ‘Non-Graduate ‘ as capable of managing the same size school as a ‘Graduate’, but at a level of payment as much as seven (7) grades below that of the latter.
Someone may therefore wonder how, in light of the above, this pipe dream insinuated for education can be realised.
Mournfully, with the invasion of foreigners from different countries and cultures there is no mention of upgrading the teaching of English and other relevant languages.
“Reduce disparities in healthcare…between the hinterland and the coastland”
There are comparable disparities in the practice (and cost) of health care between public and private hospitals in the capital city but there is no investigation by the administration of these institutions as provided for by the Private Hospitals Act of 1972.
Does not Industrial Relations fall within the purview of Social Protection? What plans are there for protecting workers in their relationships with the expected waves of foreign employers? How can the persistent misbehaviour of Rusal not be a forewarning?
At a time of increasing violence of every nature – domestic, criminal and traffic wildness; the influx of guns (not unassociated with the invasion of immigrants). There needs to be a coordinated strategy involving such agencies as Public Security, Social Protection, Immigration, Guyana Defence Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Obviously, there should be a Regional perspective as well (centralised via the CARICOM Secretariat).
With Oil and Gas, there is the explicit promise of increased immigration – legal and illegal. How could the related hazards be overlooked, while, at the same time, expounding about what goods and services will be provided to unsafe citizens?
For starters, the Police Service Commission needs to be upgraded and be explicitly disaggregated from that of the Public Service Commission.
Not only does the level of selection and recruitment need to be more professionalised, but the process should be supplemented by an appropriately designed performance evaluation system, overviewed by relevantly qualified expertise, inclusive of civilians.
Very relevantly, the role and powers of the Police Complaints Authority need to be expanded to investigate and deal proactively with, amongst others, endemic police corruption.
With the recent peremptory withdrawal of a number of experienced diplomats, one cannot help wondering where the human resources capacity would be found to achieve the objectives of securing:
– territorial integrity
– international peace and security
– climate security and free trade
– tourism and foreign investment (presumably in collaboration with the Ministry of Business).
In the final analysis, so much of the strategy speaks to the performance of human skills and competencies to be managed by leaderships that must be exemplars in effective communication, amongst other things. It is critical that, individually and severally, they develop the habit of listening more attentively.
A Conscientious Observer
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