One of Government’s leading spokesmen has told senior public officers, including Permanent Secretaries, that the burden of turning the economy around lies broadly on their shoulders.
Therefore, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Senator Darcy Boyce said, they must be more active, vibrant and proactive in order to “deliver what the country needs”.
While acknowledging that the private sector and civil society also had major roles to play in ensuring the country was more productive and competitive, Boyce said there often was very little that could happen without the active involvement of the public sector.
“It is to say that everything that happens in this country has an interface with the government services, the public service. Therefore, in my simple way of thinking, whither the public service goes, there too goes Barbados. I would really like to have our public service accept that responsibility,” Boyce told the opening of a three-day high-level strategic review and planning seminar at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today.
With Government getting ready to implement the Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP), its latest plan to breathe life back into the ailing economy, increase investment, employment and income levels, Boyce told the senior public officers that to a large extent the success of the plan would depend on them.
“You are the ones that have got to decide how you deploy resources in order for us to be able to achieve timelines and the performance targets that have been agreed upon by the persons who work on the plan. It is my hope of course that you are also involved in formulating that plan and give your advice on targets and timelines,” he said.
Over the three days approximately 30 senior public officers will examine the state of the public service, in addition to its relevance, purpose, suitability and capacity to respond to present needs.
During the seminar the officers will also seek to identify challenges facing the public service, as well as transformational opportunities, in order to formulate an agenda for change.
In assessing the public sector, Boyce said it was concerning that at this point in the country’s history, the civil service continued to lack the skills which the new economy demands.
“I still find . . . that we often do not have the required level of skills in some of the positions that are opened. We often do not have sufficient people with the skills that the new economy requires and equally, it does not seem to be a cogent plan for how we close the gaps between what we need and what we have. Let me suggest that is another job you have to do and do soon. The absence of sufficient skills in these modern age means that we are not able to deliver what we are charged to deliver for the country,” he said.
Meantime, Permanent Secretary in the Training Division of the Civil Service Esworth Reid reminded his fellow public servants that a significant part of the responsibility for the country’s success lay with them, even though it is the executive branch and Parliament that formulate policy and enact legislation that frame the country’s political, social and economic future.
“What it all boils down to is the fact that it is the quality of public servants that a country has, the ethics of the public servants and the manner in which they operate, weighs heavily on whether a country and government could realize success or failure in their effort to develop the country to the benefit of all its people,” he said, while urging the top civil servants to resist the urge to accept everything a minister says.
“If the public sector is strong and committed the country reaps success, if it is weak and dysfunctional it fails,” Reid said.