If it’s broke, just fix it!
E DII TO RII A L
A lot has been said about ‘public sector reform’ and other ambitious programmes that merely aim to satisfy the wider public opinion that is disappointed, disgusted even, by the incompetence of people in power.
The political parties (the idiots with the arrogance to say ‘no’ to the first haircut on deposits in March 2013, only to unleash the wrath of Eurozone partners, for which we are still suffering today), are clinging on to their parliamentary seats and imposing on the sheep-like voters to retain party favourites as mayors and municipal councilors. They also keep on reassuring government and wider public sector employees that their jobs are safe, simply to secure these votes.
The President of the Republic declared that (some day) he would introduce six deputy ministers, to help with the increased workload of the Cabinet members, while the commissioner for reform is about to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s of his new framework that is said to bring about radical changes to the civil service.
Even the business community has been hearing about the concept of a ‘one stop shop’ for decades that has yet to materialise for the simple reason that government departments are not cooperating.
Actually, Cyprus does not need reform. It has an abundance of laws and regulations in place. Transparency and meritocracy should never have been issues, as there are ways, simple ones even, to introduce checks and balances.
The only problem is implementing these laws and regulations, which no one bothers with. The final straw was when the Auditor General, the inspector of public spending and good practices, discovered that senior civil servants were allowed a mobile phone allowance and when the abolition of this perk was being proposed, they all said, “if you cut of this allowance, we simply won’t answer our phones”.
It is not the audacity of the ones saying it, but the stupidity of the others accepting this excuse.
Walk into any government service nowadays, when due to end-of-year payments and documentation, there is supposed to be an increased workload on the counters and at the desks. Yet, with some departments having seen their workforce reduced to a third, the work is still being done just as before, sometimes even faster. And they even found time in many offices to close early for their traditional parties.
What the Commissioner for Public Sector Reform should do is introduce ‘rules of good governance’ and find way to reward hard-working and productive civil servants and punish those who are a waste and a burden on the taxpayer. The methods would include external audits, random checks and keeping the trade unions out of the decision making process.
Given the proper guidelines and incentives, many civil servants would be willing to work more, for less, even if their superiors enjoy the idiotic mobile phone allowance.