Letters to the Editor

Reverse politicisation of the public service

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Now that Dr Andrew Wheatley, Floyd Grindley, Carolyn Warren, and Trevor Forrest have resigned, and as the investigations continue into the operations of some statutory bodies under the control of the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology, it might be a good time to examine the issue of the politicisation of the civil service and statutory bodies.

The civil service and statutory bodies are supposed to be politically neutral while executing the policy directives of the Government of the day. In practice, however, successive administrations have systematically populated important areas of the service and statutory bodies with politically connected individuals. In many cases, the operative's only competence for the job he/she occupies is political allegiance.

There is little, if any, value in attempting to determine when the practice began and which of the two major political parties inaugurated it. What we do know is the practice exists.

It is this politicisation and the attendant fear of sabotage from within which have motivated incoming governments to 'clean house ' and place their supporters in strategic management positions. When this politicisation is coupled with the propensity of some to serve themselves more than they serve the country you have the perfect recipe for financial, hiring, abuse of power, and all other kinds of scandals!

The only way to arrest this situation is to reverse the politicisation of the public service and public bodies. This should be incorporated into the much-talked-about, long-awaited modernisation of the public service.

That the minister of finance and the public service announced plans for the retention of some members of the boards of public bodies across administrations is a good start.

The self-described transformational leader should break with tradition and do the principled thing. He should commence the reversal of the process by persuading his Cabinet colleagues to appoint competent persons to public boards with no regard for political allegiance.

He will no doubt face opposition from beneficiaries of the status quo, but his principled stance will eventually triumph with support from civil society and the Church.

Do the principled thing, Prime Minister! History will be kind to you.

There might yet be a silver lining in the cloud of what could now be described as the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology scandal.

Wayne Plummer

Greater Portmore, St Catherine

wayne.r.plummer@gmail.com

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