Outspoken Government Minister Donville Inniss has suggested that a senior public officer who reportedly failed to act on several letters from a company which has since decided to move part of its business from Barbados, should be fired.
It was an example of the tardiness displayed by some in the public sector which the Minister of Industry and Small Business Development said was having a detrimental effect on businesses and he wants offenders held accountable.
The minister told Barbados TODAY that while he was not tarring the entire civil service, he strongly condemned what he called a laissez-faire attitude by some when it came to business. He said the situation was impacting the economy.
“Sometimes we do not really appreciate from [the public sector] end how the delays impact on businesses . . . I saw correspondence from a long-established, public company in Barbados that was sent to the director of a public institution, complaining that for over two years they have been waiting on that institution to refund them monies that are due to them. . . and that the institution has not responded to their various letters and the [company is] therefore prepared to close one of their departments and move to another location.
“The thing that saddens me . . . assuming that it is true because we have to wait until it is investigated, is that the particular departmental head of that institution received the correspondence and did not act in it.
“The issue is not getting the refund but at least acknowledge the correspondence. I am saying that company should not be in a position today to send home workers and move to another location. The head of that department should be fired,” Inniss said.
The Member of Parliament for St James South said there was too little accountability when things went wrong, and often the politician is blamed.
“We as ministers take our licks . . . every four or five years we go to the polls, some retain their seats and some get voted out [but] the public service continues.
“What scares me is when there is a culture that says ministers take all the blame, officers take none; ministers come, ministers go, the system remains.
“My view is that we have to continue to strive for improvements in the service and I am not attacking any public officer. I am more looking at the structure and the system because believe you me there are many public officers who are frustrated with the system too,” the minister noted.
Inniss said there was a good structure within the public service, despite the weaknesses in the system.
“Believe you me, it is not just the private sector who feels frustrated. Sometimes it is public officers who also feel frustrated. I think looking on from the outside, people don’t realize.
“As a ministry or as a department, you may write a letter on an important matter to another ministry and sometimes six months pass and you don’t get a response and you are waiting on that to make a decision. Sometimes even within ministries you send a file across to someone and a couple weeks later no one has gotten back to you,” he lamented, describing this as an unacceptable, fundamental issue.