People's Charter, Pillar 4, Public Sector Efficienccy, and Chapter 7 State of the Nation paper: For Discussion

P4.
PILLAR 4. ENHANCING PUBLIC SECTOR EFFICIENCY,
PERFORMANCE EFFECTIVENESS, AND SERVICE DELIVERY

[For the detailed recommendations and proposed implementation actions, see the Report on the State of the Nation and the Economy, at the end of this posting.]

Readers' comments on what has been done and is being done on the proposed reforms 
are especially welcome.
N0263. 

Critical Problems and Issues:
  • Our Public Sector which includes the Civil Service is inefficient and ineffective in terms of both its capacity and performance.
  • In its service delivery role, our Public Sector often fails to meet the expectations of the people of Fiji; and this adversely affects the peoples lives, in particular the poor in our communities.
  • The Public Sector is characterized by a lack of established service standards,\ ineffective work systems, ineffectual leadership, lack of transparency and accountability, and low productivity.
  • The Civil Service is too large for a small nation.
The Way Forward:
The following key measures and actions must be taken with due priority and urgency :
  • Develop a vision for Fiji’s public sector for the 21st century that seeks to build a new culture in the public service which is performance and service-oriented a well as accountable and ethical.
  • Separate the constitutional and statutory powers of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and strengthen the independence of PSC.
  • Remove political interference in the public sector.
  • Accelerate the rightsizing of the public sector through restructuring; modernizing human resource management and remuneration; rebuilding the capacity of the public service; and introducing egovernance.
  • Introduce Service Charters in all ministries and departments outlining services to be provided and the performance standards to be met.
  • Enhance the corporate governance of public enterprises through introduction of a national code of corporate governance and the implementation of a director development programme for all boards of public enterprises.
  • Strengthen the capacity, leadership and coordination of policy development and implementation.

FIJI: THE STATE OF THE NATION AND THE ECONOMY
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Chapter 7: Institutional and Public Sector Reform

While Fiji once had a Public Sector that was regarded as well led, competent, committed and hard working, that is far less so today. The impact of four coups, endemic weaknesses in governance, political interference, and the loss of key skills incurred through emigration, and ongoing corruption has seriously weakened the performance, the capacity, the independence and the professionalism of the Public Sector.

Unless the Public Sector can rebuild and again find its voice, its determination and its commitment to serving the public, it will be very difficult for the People’s Charter, as the reflection of the will of Fiji’s people, to be effectively and efficiently implemented.

Public sector and institutional reform is therefore both urgent and vital for Fiji.

There are several key issues affecting current Public Sector performance that need to be overcome so that the Public Sector can better assist the Government in helping the people of Fiji to build better lives. The first issue is the need to make the Public Sector more transparent and accountable by exposing its work to public scrutiny. The early enactment of a Freedom of Information Law (as discussed in Chapter 4) is of critical importance in this respect.

Second, the worsening situation in public sector service delivery must be addressed and reversed. The NCBBF argues that weak service delivery — whether it is in health care, roads, water, electricity, local government, in the outer islands or elsewhere — is a serious constraint on national development and that it is adversely affecting the lives of many of Fiji’s people, particularly the poor and the vulnerable. The NCBBF calls for major changes to address the most chronic problems in service delivery and to ensure that a new service culture is inculcated across the Public Sector.

Despite 15 years of Public Sector Reform (PSR), any lasting impact of reform on performance is hard to discern. Fiji needs to develop a new vision for a Public Sector of the 21st Century where Ministries and agencies are aligned to the achievement of the objectives of the People’s Charter and within which the professionalism and independence of the public sector is restored. This vision requires greater clarification of the respective roles of Ministers and public servants and the prohibition of political
involvement in merit appointments.

Future PSR must be better planned, resourced,managed and coordinated with leadership from the Prime Minister and his Office. Specific recommendations are made for rightsizing, capacity building, human resource development planning and restructuring the public service, and also for further improvements in financial management. Streamlining and accelerating public enterprise restructuring is also proposed, with real targets set on time, cost and reduction in the size of the public sector.

The NCBBF also focused on what could be done to improve the policy making process so that the policy and planning work required to implement the Peoples Charter would be handled effectively. NCBBF’s recommendations go to improving the capacity for policy making; giving the people of Fiji a greater say in the policies that are being developed in the public sector; and improving policy coordination so that all parts of Government work together more effectively.

The NCBBF also reviewed the performance of indigenous institutions that are charged with provision of good governance and the improvement of the wellbeing of the indigenous people.

The NCBBF concluded that significant changes are needed to help indigenous people increase their participation and benefit from the modern, market-based economy including integrating the existing dual levels of governance into one; building a shared vision for change; enhancing visionary leadership; developing a new operating paradigm in indigenous institutions that is less about control and more about empowerment and capacity building; and through inculcating entrepreneurial and business behaviours amongst indigenous people.

These changes will require some of the institutions to take on enhanced roles and responsibilities — roles already required of them under the Fijian Affairs Act. The NCBBF believes that the most fundamental driving force for improving the lives of indigenous people is land — that while their ownership rights are enshrined in the Constitution and must remain intact, their benefits from the productive utilisation of this key national resource needs to be enhanced. The NLTB needs to play a more effective role in this regard.

Comments

who's who said…
A major problem with the civil service has been the inability among senior officers to implement policies to the letter. Rather there has been a tendency to bend, ignore or deliberately misinterpret policies to suit their own agenda. Supervisors also have not taken their roles seriously or have not been sufficiently trained to do so. Standard have to be set by the Public Service Commission through constant monitoring and evaluation. Hopefully current reforms will solve the above problems.

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