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Threats to Good Governance Part 2: A Sloppy Public Service – Bloated, Inept and Crumbling

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Posted: Saturday, January 29, 2022. 12:39 pm CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Norris Hall: Part I of the ‘Threats to Good Governance’ focused on Ministerial malpractice and incompetent CEO’s and how not having a Minister or CEO who properly understands the workings of the public service, affects the effectiveness of government at the highest level. Part 2 focuses on the public service as there is nothing more debilitating to good governance than ministerial malpractices, mismanagement (covered in Part l) and a bloated, inept and crumbling public service.

Recently retired career Public Officers have been happy to walk away from the Public Service complaining that the Administrative pillar of the government, especially during the Barrow Administration, is bloated, inept, dysfunctional and crumbling.

The previous Administration’s employment sponge saturated the Public Service with political party hacks and until recently, even with ghost workers who were on the political payrolls. This has helped and, with the complicity of the Public Services Commission, reduced the professional proficiency and the integrity of this branch of the government.

This is telling and there is an urgent need for Constitutional and Public Service Reform. Post–haste and in the best interest of the government that more than ever requires a well-oiled Administration machinery to implement its policies.

The current status quo is not cutting it with the exception of the powerful Belize National Teachers Union that has been a moving force for change and for better governance.

On the other hand the Public Services Union is weak. It lacks the support of the majority of Public Officers despite their best effort. For years Public Officers have not been given the necessary support for training and career advancement and they have been virtually abandoned by a totally incompetent Public Services Commission appointed by the Barrow Administration, and are fighting tooth and nail with the Briceno Administration to keep their do-nothing jobs. They must bear full responsibility for the collapsing state of the Public Service.

The Public Service Commission, over the years, has neglected their responsibility to ensure the hiring of qualified public officers and in ensuring that the strict guidelines and regulations for a professional and efficient public Service are implemented and adhered to.

Recently, the Commissioner of Police made some remarks at a Passing Out parade for police cadets that may have been overlooked by many. It was a serious dig at the Services Commission, when he said “no longer will the Police Department be recruiting (political) hand-me-downs”.

Comparing the Belize Public Service with other regional governments in the Caribbean and Central America, in terms of sizes of population and governments, the Public Service of Belize is far too big and for too inefficient. It has to be streamlined and made to become professional and efficient in accordance with international best practices.

The new Ministry of the Public Service, Constitution and Political Reform is now taking steps to grapple with the pressing issues of restoring the integrity of government and the professional competency and efficiency of the Public Service, including the Services Commissions. A “Good Governance Unit” has been created and there is now a search for a Director, Legal Advisor and ancillary staff. A joint Staff Relations Council will be appointed as well as a Task Force for the implementation of Constitutional Reform.

The government is not getting value for money nor are public officers being well represented by a Union that continues to reject actuarial studies that indicate the need for an increase in Social Security contributions in the best future interests of public officers to strengthen their social safety net in retirement.

 

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