Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has come under heavy criticism by the head of the Public Service Association (PSA) and social media users for remarking that there were many unproductive public servants.
PSA president Watson Duke took to Facebook to respond to the Prime Minister who made the statement at the Police Academy in St James on Wednesday.
Rowley had said, “Many of them produce absolutely nothing when the day comes. Collect a salary at the end of the month and make the most noise when pay is late.”
In a live feed on Facebook on Thursday, Duke said he was shocked, perturbed and upset over the Prime Minister’s statement. Charging that Rowley is not performing, Duke said, “He is turning his failure from managing the public service outwards, away from himself, and placing it upon the public servants. “It worries me. It worries all 80,000 public servants of this country and it hurts us to the core. It says to that mother, that good worker who leaves south at 4 am to come to Port of Spain for an 8 o’clock job, that leaves work at 5- 6 pm to get home that your efforts are not recognized.”
Although public servants were doing yeoman service, he said, they were lacking the basic necessities to carry out their jobs, including toilet paper. Former minister of Public Administration Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said it was unfortunate the Prime Minister used a broad-brush approach. She said many public officers are desirous of delivering services but are unable to effectively do so because of the current antiquated processes and system and the lack of effective enabling tools to do the job. She questioned why the government cancelled the previous administration’s Gold to Diamond project which was designed to modernize these systems and re-engineer processes to make them more value-added and would have reduced costs, improve efficiency and the effectiveness in the delivery of public services. Seepersad-Bachan said while many public servants have obtained their Masters and PhD degrees they still operate in old job specifications.
“It is my humble view that the Prime Minister has to understand that there are many public officers and many police officers who are willing and able and competent to deliver on the services required for modern police service or a modern public service but they are unable to do so because of the state of affairs.”
And the former head of the public service, Reynold Cooper, said there are a lot of “dedicated and hard-working” workers but admitted there are some workers who are unproductive and complain when things do not go their way. Cooper added, the recruitment process of public servants must be improved to select the best. However, he said a lot depends on the passion and drive of the relevant minister. “I think generally public servants will work if given the opportunity and if they are motivated,” he said.