Georgetown, Guyana – (March 5, 2017) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, who has responsibility for the Public Service, today, called on the Permanent Secretaries, Heads and Regional Executive Officers of Ministries, Departments and regions, to ensure that the Guyanese people are treated with more respect and courtesy and are provided with an efficient service as the Government continues to invest in the development of the public service and the quality of service it is able to provide.
The Minister, who was at the time addressing participants of a three-day retreat and workshop at the Splashmins Eco Park, hosted by the Department of Public Service and Ministry of the Presidency for upper management staff of agencies, departments, Ministries and regional authorities, said that as the training concludes, it is his hope that the knowledge that has been imparted will result in greater efficiency. “This programme must be more than a souvenir because it contains information that encapsulates your roles and mission as Permanent Secretaries, as Regional Officers, as Heads of Departments and Heads of Commissions. It is my fervent hope and wish that you leave here with a keen understanding of your role as change agents leading the way for the establishment of a new culture and work ethic… setting high standards of efficiency and accountability in the delivery of service,” Minister Harmon said.
The State Minister told the participants that as the upper echelon of the organisations, they must begin to influence their staff to understand that their duties are to serve and deliver a high quality of service to the Guyanese public. “We are their servants. We are the public service. We are not public masters. We must understand that the people who come to you, come to our offices, are our masters. These are the people you were employed to serve… Treat the public with the courtesy and respect that they deserve as the masters of us,” he urged.
Minister Harmon also noted that it is not without significance that the public service falls within the purview of the Ministry of the Presidency as the President and the Government have a deep appreciation of the importance of an improved and efficient public service. The retreat, Minister Harmon said, is a part of the process to reform the public service and to make it dynamic, relevant, reliable, resourceful and responsive to the needs of the people. This, he said, will ensure that public servants are enabled to deliver in an administratively neutral way and to operate on the basis of integrity, without fear or favour, partiality or prejudice.
“I don’t want to know which party you voted for. That isn’t a requirement on your application form. It requires of you, a certain level of integrity, of competence and confidence in the job, which you are going to do. This process of having a fresh look at the public service started with the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission made 89 recommendations and set out a menu of measures for fashioning the public service. This training is a part of that menu of measures and when you leave here, what you do with this training, when you go back to your Ministries and regions is what will determine how we move forward. You are the key to the establishment of this new culture. You are the flag bearers and the ones to set the tones and example,” Minister Harmon said.
Meanwhile, Head of the Department of Public Service, Mr. Reginald Brotherson, in an invited comment, said that the three-day training programme was aimed at assisting Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments to develop confidence and competence to function as change agents, in the interest of improving efficiency and professionalism in the public service and to introduce tools, which are pertinent to the development and completion of every Ministry’s, Department’s or Agency’s strategic plan.
He said that he is hopeful that with this training and other measures, which will be implemented by the Department, that the public service sector can see major improvements in about two years’ time. “The Department of Public Service is the lead Ministry, which manages structures and human resources in the country and with the new training and the new confidence that has been given, our watchword is trust and we expect that managers will be good leaders,” he said.
Mr. Leslie Wilburg, Regional Executive Officer for the Barima-Waini Region (Region One), in an invited comment, said that the training was informative and will go a long way in improving the lives of the residents in that region. “Well it has better equipped me to be one of the change agents and to help Guyanese to realise the President’s wish that we all enjoy a good life. It has made me more confident in my role and it has given me enough knowledge which I can impart on my staff so that we can form a team to tackle the activities of the region and make life more comfortable for the residents there,” Mr. Wilburg said.
The training was attended by all Permanent Secretaries of the various Ministries as well as the Regional Executive Officers from the 10 administrative regions and several other Departments and agencies within the Ministries.