The Public Service adds value to the economy – Director General
Edmond Jackson, Director General of Finance and Planning says, the public service is suffering from serious marketing and branding issues and the negative perception of public servants is unwarranted.
He however noted that while there are issues, “there are very hard working public servants who produce- sometimes under trying circumstances.”
Jackson was speaking on the public service during a panel discussion held on Tuesday at the Peace Memorial Hall as part of Public Service Week.
He stressed that while there is room for improvement, it must be recognised that without the service of the public sector, things we take for granted in the system, though they may not be perfect, would not be there to serve and meet the needs of the public.
“…Especially during this period when we are going through the COVID pandemic and La Soufriere, we were still able as public servants to keep the ship of state afloat, collect the revenue that needed to be collected, and pay bills that needed to be paid, and to ensure that we all got our monthly pay packet every single month,” Jackson said.
He stressed that this is not something to be taken for granted and as we celebrate public service week, “We must pay some attention to that, and recognise that we are workers of value, we must believe more in ourselves, and we must understand our roll in the scheme of things, and we must defend our brand by presenting ourselves as worthy public servants and we must market ourselves by speaking positively about our profession.”
Giving some insight into the public service, Jackson said a five year average shows that the government spends approximately $665 million per year.
He described the figure as an “interesting statistic”, and commented that it is important to note that public servants played a role in that, and the spending depended on how effective public servants delivered, and how they performed.
On average, according to Jackson, approximately $283 million is spent every year on salaries for public servants which adds up to $24 million a month. He said this does not take into account the materials and other cost for providing services to the public.
Going further, Jackson said the public service makes up 31% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and we should pay attention to this as it measures how well the country performs.
He said the public service adds value to the economy and at 31%, this tells you that government activity is of significant importance to the economy in terms of comparing the amount of money that the government spends, “that we all spend as public servants.”
Jackson also noted that wages and salaries as a percentage of the economy is 13% and this is also an important number
“…This is not to admonish or reprimand you, but simply to tell you be aware every day that you come to work, it adds cost to doing business and what we produce, it is important for us to produce it well and to produce it better,” Jackson commented.
He noted that broadly speaking, the public sector provides three things- public goods, social protection services, and the facilitation of business and economic activity.
The Finance Director said the public service gives support to help those who are less fortunate and vulnerable, because it is important that everyone has a basic standard of living while the goods and services provided by the public service is done as the private sector, because of the nature of the goods and services, has no interest in providing.
For example, the police force, the prison service, the court system and schools etc.
“It is important though that in doing our work that we pay attention to where we are and what we do and understand that what we do on a daily basis, in every hour of the day, contributes overall to the economic well-being of the country,” Jackson advised public servants while noting that the public service contributes to the business environment in which economic activity takes place.
“Everything we do as a public servant, when we come in, regardless of how mundane you may think it is, it adds up to a bigger purpose, and I want to encourage every public servant as we celebrate Public Service Week, to recognise how you are connected to the bigger purpose, the bigger purpose is to enhance prosperity for all in St. Vincent.
“I think that is a big mandate…”Jackson stressed while noting that as a public servant, what you do, where you serve and how you approach your work, you should go on a daily basis with that mindset.
Public Service Week ends today, having begun on June 21. Activities included the panel discussion on June 22, a church service at the Methodist church, Kingstown, an address by the Minister with responsibility for the Public Service, Frederick Stephenson delivered yesterday and Public Service Talking Points held on Round Table Talk.
There was also the public servants years of recognition initiative which was held in- house while today, there will be a special recognition ceremony for the public service.
The panel discussion, dubbed, “A look into the new norm, a work like balance for public servants” also heard from Director of the Public Sector Reform Unit, Emma Jackson; clinical psychologist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Valeo Experience, Dr. Jozelle Miller and Winston George, co-ordinator of the Caribbean Digital Transformation Project.
The week was celebrated under the theme: Resilient Public Service, Appreciating the Spirit and Strength of Public Servants.