Former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell has suggested comprehensive reform of public services as the single most important measure Government can take to spur economic growth here.
And he’s said the first order of business must be to assemble the expertise to develop an action plan to transform the way the Government runs.
In his self-published monthly economic statement, Worrell said: “We need a comprehensive plan of action for the introduction of modern Government systems and processes, to replace current systems. Our current systems have remained largely unchanged since pre-Independence days. Their antiquity is reflected in the way transactions are recorded and processed, the military-style hierarchies of Government, and the archaic titles and responsibilities of public officers. These must all now be replaced.
“The plan of action should stipulate new forms of organisation which are cooperative rather than hierarchical. A matter for decision which requires the input of several public officers should be sent directly to everyone concerned, and they should make a single collective decision after reviewing the material. At present, such decisions go up through a hierarchy, in a lengthy process which lacks the benefit of the collective wisdom of everyone involved.”
Worrell said that along with new processes, the plan of action should include annual benchmarks for the delivery of all public services. The targets should include educational achievement, health services provision, crime reduction, upgrade of sanitation services, and improvements in tax revenue collection, he said.
The former central banker said there should also be final targets for longer-term projects, such as the completion of sewerage systems, and the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources.
He suggested: “Government should hire the best international expertise to develop the national plan of action. The experts chosen should have demonstrated experience with countries like our own. The team should include, and preferably be led by, Caribbean professionals of proven capacity and independent minds.”
He added that the national action plan and similar plans for government departments, agencies and state-owned corporations should provide information on: the public services that are to be delivered; measurable targets for the delivery of public services in the coming year; stages for the delivery of long term objectives, with deadlines for each stage; and the institution’s budget for the next year and a budgetary framework for the next three years.
Worrell said further that an executive summary of a national action plan, together with a summary of the main targets, should be published; a progress report on the previous year’s targets should be included in the preparation of each year’s action plan, beginning next year; and published annual reports should be expected of all Government departments, agencies and state corporations, with information on achievement of set targets, and plan modifications if needed to stay on target.
Worrell added: “Government needs suitable international expertise to assist with renewal of the leadership of the professional public service. Along with the new organisation and up-to-date technology will come new posts and new responsibilities, with new skills and knowledge requirements.
“The existing public sector leadership must be evaluated for suitability to the new requirements, and needed skills must be sourced from Caribbean and international markets. The newly-recruited public sector leadership would have the task of marshalling necessary skills for the modernised public service, through a process of evaluation of current staff, retention, separation and recruitment.”
He continued: “CXC results that are the envy of our Caribbean neighbours, public transport that is courteous, on time and comfortable, comprehensive sewerage in Bridgetown and on the south and west coasts, and well surfaced roads – these and more are all within the country’s grasp…
“What is required is a modern public service and new leadership with the knowledge and skills to run efficient public services in a dynamic world.”