THE VISION CALLS FOR A SKILLED, PROFESSIONAL, ACCOUNTABLE WORKFORCE
THE REVIEWS TO TAKE FORWARD THE PROGRAMME OF INSTITUTIONAL MODERNISATION ENABLING MINISTRIES TO ADDRESS STAFFING AND HUMAN RESOURCES PROBLEMS A-G SAYS REFORMS ACTUALLY HELP US COMPLY WITH THE 2013 CONSTITUTION
The following is the Ministerial Statement by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament on April 27, 2016.
1.1 Madam Speaker, the Civil Service Reforms by the Government was first announced in the 2014 Budget.
1.2 There, a plan was outlined, where through a World Bank managed trust fund and with the financial assistance of Fiji’s development partners, engaged consultants from all over the world would come to Fiji to provide models of best practice to strengthen a civil service that has been plagued by years of dissatisfaction and complaints from the general public of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Also, the idea was that the Civil Service reforms actually help us comply with the Constitution.
1.3 The Government’s vision for the nation calls for a skilled, professional and accountable civil service. The budget speech emphasized the need to ensure that the systems that civil servants work in, the technologies they work with and the rules of administration that they follow, encourage and support them.
1.4 The ongoing Civil Service Reforms attempt to address these issues using a holistic approach. Reviewing not only individual ministries, but systems of government that were known to breed inefficiency and passivity.
1.5 Another focus of the reforms is to provide a modern system of governance that retains a level of consistency while still allowing high performing civil servants autonomy in regards to strategic thinking, innovation and the constant improvement and excellence in service delivery. A better Fiji for all Fijians.
1.6 While the original pace of the reforms was not quite as fast as it could’ve been, it has picked up momentum over the past few months and several reform programmes and activities are currently ongoing with more activities under the reforms being scoped to take place before the end of the year.
1.7 With the assistance of overseas consultants and taking into account the provisions of the Constitution, guidelines have been or will be developed to assist Permanent Secretaries with their new devolved roles. These guidelines will be developed incorporating international best practices and standards.
2.0 Open Merit Recruitment and Selection Guidelines:
2.1 The Open Merit Recruitment and Selection guideline opens up what was known to be an infamous closed career circuit in the Civil Service. Meaning, Madam Speaker, that highly qualified people from outside the government found it hard to break into civil service, not just at the Permanent Secretary (PS) level but indeed at the middle management and even lower management levels. The focus of the guideline is to recruit the best and brightest into the Fijian Government regardless of whether these people are from within or from outside the service- fostering open competition.
2.2 The guideline provides ministries with a system that recognises equivalency within government while promoting fairness, transparency and accountability in regards to the recruitment, selection and even training processes in Government.
2.3 The guideline was approved in January and officially launched a week later for implementation within all Government ministries. The implementation of the guideline involves intensive training for HR departments and for ministry staff themselves which is currently ongoing.
3.0 Compensation Benchmark Survey
3.1 As announced last week, the Fijian Government has begun the review of the pay structure of civil servants.
3.2 There is currently a compensation benchmark survey exercise being undertaken by all ministries whereby internal job descriptions or descriptors are matched against similar positions in the Private and NGO sectors to determine the external market rate for each Benchmark position. This is to ensure that the compensation being offered is in line with the rest of Fiji’s employment market.
3.3 The Compensation Benchmark Survey contributes to the foundation laid by the Open Merit Recruit and Selection Guideline. Where the guideline provides a system that ensures open selection and recruitment, the benchmark survey will provide data to assist the Government in retaining and attracting highly qualified and professional staff.
4.0 Job Evaluation Guidelines:
4.1 The job evaluation guideline looks to identify a methodology within the Fijian Government to determine the value of a position in relation to other positions in the same ministry to establish a rational, fiscally responsible pay structure within Government.
4.2 Again, having flow-on effects and being affected itself by the Open Merit Recruitment and Selection Guidelines as well as the Compensation Benchmark Survey results.
4.3 This is due to begin early in May.
5.0 Strengthening of the Planning Cycle
5.1 A consultant has been engaged to review the Government’s planning cycle to allow individual ministries to better align their service delivery, staffing and corporate planning requirements.
5.2 This is a fundamental exercise by the Reform Unit to ensure that, given the new Budget year, ministries and departments are able to provide accountable, more forward thinking, strategic plans to the necessary ministries such as the Ministry of Finance in a comprehensive, timely manner.
6.0 Discipline Guidelines
6.1 New Discipline Guidelines are currently being prepared that will provide permanent secretaries with a modern uptake on Discipline Guidelines and procedures as well as to provide a level of consistency across ministries.
6.2 This consultation process for the drafting of this guideline has already begun and approval and implementation will begin in July
7.0 Performance Management Guidelines/ Training and Staff Development
7.1 To ensure that ministry objectives and outcomes are met given the human resource capacity of the various ministries, guidelines will be developed to assist permanent secretaries in overall development and management of the performance of staff.
7.2 This will begin in July.
8.0 Individual Ministry Reviews:
8.1 Public sector specialists have been engaged through the reform team to carry out specially scoped reviews on various ministries.
8.2 In the past three months, three major ministries have been reviewed– (i) PSC (ii) Agriculture; and (iii) Infrastructure
8.3 Currently, there are six ongoing reviews being undertaken–– (i) Office of the Prime Minister
(ii) Ministry of Finance, (iii) Ministry of Health (iv) Ministry of Public Enterprises, (v) Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, and
(vi) Ministry of Lands 8.4 Four ministry reviews have scoped to begin in the second half of the year– (i) Ministry of Youth and Sports
(ii) Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the
(iii) Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Office
(iv) Ministry of Communication and ITC with the aim of reviewing most, if not all of the ministries this year.
8.3 These reviews look to take forward a programme of institutional modernisation that enables ministries to address staffing and human resource challenges.