President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), O’Neil Grant, has lauded the performance of Public Sector workers, who continue to give excellent service, despite the changing economic environment.
“I think that as a Public Service, we have done quite well with what we have been given to work with,” Mr. Grant told reporters at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on November 12.
He pointed out that public servants have been impacted by a reduction in the national budget, which “has shrunk from $700 billion to $500 billion, through the current austerity programme.”
“When you remove $200 billion of expenditure from any budget, you recognize that there is a serious shrinkage. It is a credit to the civil servants that are in the system that despite the reduction in the Government’s budget, we are still able to maintain the delivery of public services,” the JSCA Head said.
Addressing the negative view of the civil service held by members of the public, Mr. Grant said that the perception is one of low productivity and inefficiency.
“I want to posit that these are silos. These are not the general experience in the service and what we are attempting to do through the work we are doing, is to eliminate those silos and create one service culture where every individual who comes to access the service will feel that the service is being delivered to the best quality that it can be delivered,” he said.
Mr. Grant emphasized that civil servants are competent and capable of delivering the required outcomes.
“We have very talented, very wonderful, very bright and very committed civil servants. What we don’t have are strong systems that will bring forward the intellect that resides in the public sector,” he said.
The sector, he said, is staffed by some of the most educated professionals in Jamaica.
“If you go to any campus of tertiary pursuits, and you do a sample of the number of civil servants pursuing high level degrees, you will recognize that (with) us being 9 per cent of the labour force, we have the highest concentration of persons with first and second degrees and doctorates in the entire population. That tells me that there is a wealth of resources available within the public sector,” Mr. Grant said.
The current public sector, he argued, needs to find a way to tap into that resource, suggesting that the solution can be found in tasking the Strategic Human Resource Management Division of the Ministry of Finance to identify the skills that reside in the public sector, and to manage those skills.
Meanwhile, outgoing Civil Servant of the Year, Enthrose Campbell, who also spoke at the ‘Think Tank’, concurred that civil servants work hard and produce good work.
Commenting on the projects she completed this year in her capacity as the top civil servant for 2013/2014, she noted that “it’s about showing persons that (being) civil servants is not just about writing receipts. We are smart.”
Civil Service Week will be observed from November 16 to -21 under the theme: ‘Public Sector Advancement though Partnership and Collaboration’.
Mr. Grant said the theme was selected in view of the sacrifices made over the years and in recognition that the Public Sector cannot advance without a partnership among all the stakeholders – public sector, private sector and the persons who use public services.
“We thought this theme is appropriate, given the challenges we are now facing as a country and that it can only get better through partnership and collaboration,” he said.
By Andrine Davidson