2023 is only hours away.
It is the year that will determine whether the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell will be able to consolidate the victory against the New National Party (NNP) of Keith Mitchell as a result of the change of government following the June 23 general election.
THE NEW TODAY sees the major issue facing the government at the moment as the lack of competence within all sections of the public service to drive the Transformational Agenda that was championed by the new leadership.
The dearth of competence also extends to the quality of the Permanent Secretaries in place as even officers at the lower level do not have respect for many of them.
Grenada made a serious mistake over the years by placing too much emphasis on certification of public officers as many of them do possess first and second degrees but lack the training and knowledge that are needed to make sure that they do perform with excellence on the job.
There is no shortage of qualified public officers on paper in the service but the competence level is badly missing.
The Prime Minister and his government will have to make approaches to friendly governments like the United Kingdom and Canada to help with the requisite training of public officers to take them to the level that is needed to build and bring about capacity within the service.
The technology is also available through the zoom platform for public officers to get short-term crash courses to help improve their skills.
A truly functioning Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an important role in sourcing and securing friendly countries that can help with providing the necessary training and possible retraining of our public officers to become productive for the good of the country.
The new 5-member Public Service Commission (PSC), headed by female attorney-at-law Debra St Bernard has to be very pro-active in addressing the shortage of competent public offices which was the hallmark of a deliberate strategy of the former rulers within the NNP.
It should be recalled that Dr. Keith Mitchell had made utterances that if he had his way the PSC would be disbanded and replaced by the Executive Secretary system which would have allowed him to hire and fire public officers at his own whims and fancies.
The NNP boss had no respect for public officers and in return they never trusted him and were often on go-slow on the job.
The situation deteriorated to the point where the NNP operatives who were recruited to work in the public service did not perform at the workplaces and those who opposed the regime also did no productive work for the State.
This is the situation which new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has found himself in as his predecessor in office did admit publicly that the system had broken down but yet he did nothing to fix or address it.
THE NEW TODAY is calling on the new government in conjunction with the PSC to return to the days where public officers in various departments were emulated and rewarded at a public ceremony for their performance on the job.
The powers-that-be should also return to the good old days of allowing entrants into the public service to sit an examination to determine whether the quality levels are there to obtain a job.
It should not be an open season in which politicians in their hunt for voters just pack the service and even statutory bodies with their cronies who do more damage than good to the country and its finances.
The Prime Minister is a very intelligent individual and knows that the Congress government needs people with competence if it has to succeed in office.
The immediate task is to put teeth to his pre-election mantra that persons will be given jobs based on merit so the system has to be put in place now by Congress to get public officers to once again understand that they will have to learn to work for the pay cheque at the end of the month.
Sadly, the 2023 budget did not address the issue of training and performance and what are the plans of the new government to restore the public service to its glory days of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
The PSC, government and public sector unions need to come together as a matter of urgency and to roll out very early in 2023 a massive training programme for the public service in the national interest.
THE NEW TODAY is convinced that the Transformational Agenda will never succeed if the Prime Minister and his team do not grapple with the vexing issue of lack of competence in the civil service.
How does the new administration hope to raise the implementation rate of projects with the current lot of non-performers who were specially selected by the old regime to suit their purposes?
The PSC and its head, Debra St Bernard need to take a serious look at those public officers who were sidelined by Keith Mitchell and NNP especially those with the skills in Project Preparation and Implementation to help with the development process that lies ahead with all its many challenges.
An investment right now in raising the Human Resources capacity within the public service will result in the investment bearing fruits for the new Congress government in the years ahead.