Georgetown, Guyana – (September 30, 2015) Minister of State, with responsibility for the Public Service sector, Joseph Harmon, has promised the sector much needed policy measures and changes in the coming months, as the Government rolls out its plans for a professional and quality based public service.
Delivering the keynote address this morning at the 21st Biennial Delegates’ Conference of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC), Minister Harmon said that the new administration was conscious of the need for the restoration of high quality of public service in Guyana, and as such, has begun work in this area.
He noted that the Public service sector is the face and the driving force of the Executive; therefore, it is important that this sector be known for its professionalism and efficiency.
“The Government cannot function without the public service. Public servants are involved in one of the most important tasks of national life. That is the delivery of public service to the nation. Services such as education, health, public security and infrastructure, all depend on your delivery. The quality of this delivery is a key determinant of the quality of life in our society. Our public service, therefore, needs to be efficient to create an environment in which, our populace can have a good life,” Minister Harmon told the participants at the Convention Centre.
He noted that while the system has been inherited, the new government will not allow it to persist as is. He pointed out that the overall plan of the government encompasses a public service that is reliant, responsive to the needs of people and which is equally effective in all regions of Guyana.
“This conference is taking place at a time when our country has embarked on a process of democratic renewal. This administration is taking very seriously, the public servant. We have taken very seriously, the moral of the public service, the benefits that are accrued from working in the public service and we have a new road map for the type of public servant that we are looking for in this administration,” he said.
Minister Harmon told the public servants gathered that irrespective of which political party they were in support of, their first responsibility is to the people of Guyana. Pointing out the past practice of political appointments in the public service, Minister Harmon said that this will not be allowed to continue as the type of public service sector needed, requires qualified and suitable persons.
“You are involved in the people’s business. Regardless of political party affiliation, knowledge must be available to any political administration at any given time so that public policy can evolve in an ordered, progressive and efficient way. In order to fulfill this function properly, the public service must have expert knowledge and high levels of qualification in order to discharge its functions efficiently. To achieve this, it is clear that there is a need for; public sector reform, for proper training, improved conditions of service and an upgrade of essentials to facilitate an effective delivery of public service,” he said.
In the meantime, he detailed the government’s plans for sector, beginning with the highly anticipated Public Service Staff College, which he said will be fully equipped with computers, WiFi and a library.
“The process has begun and we are working to ensure that a different state of affairs exists in the public sector… This [Public Service Staff College] is the path to public service reform… to fight corruption you have to have a strong public service. This is the effort of the administration to ensure that we have a strong, powerful public service that can take this country to the next level. The college will be launched shortly. We have already had proposals for the composition of the board, the quality of lecturers and the curriculum,” Minister Harmon told the gathering to loud applause.
Further, he said that the administration will soon roll out the eGovernance Project, which will see government services and records digitalised and available online, in an effort to promote efficiency.
He also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the collective bargaining process and to resolving disputes with the GPSU.
“As you deliberate in this conference, rest assured that you have, in this administration, a partner not an adversary, a friend not an enemy and an administration that understands the crucial role that you play and continue to play in national development. We also understand how critical it is for public service to be delivered effectively for a good life for all Guyanese,” he expressed.
President of the GPSU, Patrick Yard, said that he was confident that the government will deliver on its promises, even as he promised to hold the government accountable of their actions.
With the administrations thrust in mind, the theme for this year’s conference is “Enhancing the process of the restoration of dignity and professionalism in the public service.”