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Talent shortage in public service

A retired Permanent Secretary in Grenada has said that a top priority for the 4-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell is to rebuild the public service into an efficient unit to carry out the functions of the state.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY Wednesday, the ex-high-ranking member of the public service said that the biggest problem faced by the new administration is the lack of a cadre of competent persons within the civil service.

“That has been eroded over time – there are hardly any competent people,” she said.

According to the former Permanent Secretary, most of the workers in the service are not professional and that many of them have become aligned to the political parties on the island.

“Now that you really want to get people to work and not to just support a party or whatever, it is difficult to get people (to work),” she said, adding that, “I knew that was going to happen and that has always been my fear for the NDC.”

She pointed out that the reality of the situation is that the new regime at the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen “can’t just throw people out at will as the other side and that they will run into some problems” but instead should concentrate on training people to become productive and in some cases “switch everybody around” to see where best they can perform in the service.

She said if there is a technical person working in a ministry and the person cannot do the job adequately then the individual should be transferred immediately to another area in the service in an equivalent position that is more appropriate to their skillset.

There are reports that Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has been forced to look outside the service to recruit a female from a leading private sector business in the south of the island to become his Personal Assistant in the Botanical Gardens.

The former PS agreed with the position taken by the 2008-13 NDC administration of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas to not engage in mass transfer of public officers on assuming office but to leave persons in their position to see how they perform and then access them.

This, she said, is necessary “so when you move them you have a reason for moving them.”

“When you come in and you just move people without knowing what they will do, or doing or capable of doing then it looks like political victimisation,” she added.

The former top member of the public service insisted that the policy of a new government should be to leave the workers in their position “to prove themselves (to see) if they’re really working and they are competent and working without political interference – then fine you can stay.”

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