CIVIL SER­VICE RE­FORM IS A MUST FOR THE SEC­TOR TO GROW

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.

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

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.

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.

Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Photo: Waisea Nasokia

From left: Fiji Air­ways board chair­man, Rajesh Punja, At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Min­is­ter for Civil Avi­a­tion, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor/chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­dre Viljoen and staff fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of the 2015 record profit.

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