Cabinet Secretaries look at public sector reform and good governance
March 2, 2012
Cabinet Secretaries look at public sector reform and good governance

Good governance is necessary for attracting foreign investment, increasing competitiveness and effecting reform to maximize the effective delivery of goods and services.{{more}}

It is, therefore, important for those responsible for effecting good governance to explore creative ways to address issues which may inhibit reform in the civil service.

“We are meeting today to reflect on our practices and to share experiences,” Susan Dougan, this country’s Cabinet Secretary, said at the opening of the two-day meeting of Regional Cabinet Secretaries and Heads of Public Service last Thursday, February 23, at the Buccament Bay Resort.

While it is the vision of many public servants to transform the public service into a smarter operation, Dougan explained that one of the goals of the two-day meeting was to highlight several critical areas which will lead to better and well informed decision making.

She added that the participants were also expected to look at issues relating to professionalism within the public service and accountability.

“These are perhaps areas where we need to lift our game,” Dougan said.

Colin Mc Donald, Regional Adviser, Caribbean Governance and Institutional Development Division within the Commonwealth Secretariat, in his opening remarks, said that the meeting was shaped within two fundamental pillars: the goal of peace and development and the goal of growth and sustainable development.

“In terms of developing national capacity of member states, economic development, environmental sustainable development and human development, these priority areas reflect an integrated approach to national capacity building,” McDonald explained.

This was also the framework on which the discussions were expected to be held, which according to McDonald represented an excellent opportunity for the Secretariat to create a platform for dialogue and meaningful discussion which he said would help in shaping their agenda and identify priorities for working and partnering with the respective countries.

He reminded participants that the meeting was being held during one of the most challenging periods, saying that this reality must be in the forefront of the minds of those in positions of leadership.

“These harsh realities call up on us to think and work differently; the realities even ask us to question what we did and what we are doing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as he delivered the keynote address at the workshop’s opening ceremony, said that reform in the public sector and the deepening of good governance could only take place in a society which had already reached a particular level within its civilization.

He said that even as the World Bank indicated that the world economy was entering a dangerous stage and some of the world’s largest economies had fallen, St Vincent and the Grenadines had held its own and delivered on its policies.

“This country, this administration have taken a number of steps to reform the civil service…we have created better structures to perform functions,” he said adding that it was necessary for a people to be constantly evolving and changing.

The prime minister mentioned his administration’s decision to implement the reclassification exercise, one he said that many governments across the region were having issues implementing.

And while there were some issues which still needed to be worked out, he said it was a worthwhile exercise.

The government has also introduced performance management and has tightened up the budgeting process by having performance budgeting and internal control mechanisms.

There was an attempt Gonsalves said to reform the state’s apparatus by way of a proposed constitutional change, but that was defeated.

To all the proposed reformed changes, the prime minister was of the opinion that the state had not done too badly as was evident by the analysis by some international organizations.

“But as well as we have done, we can do better,” he said.

“Which is why we are here to provide the leadership to lift our game,” Gonsalves said. (DD)