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Keep it small

Thursday, February 22, 2018

It is slightly ironic that the public body responsible for hiring public servants is itself begging to hire staff in order to do its job. According to the state’s Chief Personnel Officer, his department alone is 40 per cent short, making it harder for it to fill vacancies across the public sector.

It’s an odd anomaly but perhaps it just highlights the dysfunctional state of our public sector. Hiring more personnel, though, isn’t the answer.

Public services in our country are, by and large, poor and inefficient. And, as we witness when visiting many public offices, quite a few of our state employees don’t seem to be terribly busy. If there at all.

The public sector also seems allergic to more modern and simpler processes. Whilst in a growing number truly e-government is a reality, here we continue to perform most transactions on paper. And in triplicate.

The problem with our public service is not a lack of personnel but unproductivity caused by outdated processes, absenteeism and lack of leadership. Instead of hiring more people, the Chief Personnel Officer, supported by ministers and all permanent secretaries, should focus on making our public service more productive, efficient and honest.

Good conversation

It’s widely believed that intelligence provided by foreign sources was fundamental in helping put the nation on a terror alert just before Carnival.

The ongoing dialogue between the government and partner nations that form the Five Eyes (US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—the last one without diplomatic representation in T&T) is welcome and ought to continue if we are to avoid becoming the next playing field for extremist organisations.

We must do our part as well. A key step is to demonstrate to foreign partners that our protective services can be trusted with even more sensitive intelligence. A tall order.

Cleaner and tidier

Residents of areas where carnival takes place will welcome suggestions of new legislation designed to spare them from noise pollution and the mess left in front of their houses. After all, paint, mud and even chocolate may be great fun for revellers but not so much for those who have to clean up afterwards.

These are sensible proposals, many of them in line with what this newspaper previously suggested. There’s a fine balance to strike, though: overregulate and carnival’s spontaneity will be lost forever; leave it completely unregulated and disruption is too much and unfair on residents.


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