Sun | May 26, 2019

Inaugural Debate competition gives government workers opportunity to help transform public sector

Published:Thursday | March 21, 2019 | 12:05 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Public sector worker, Rahja Harrison, employed to the Accountant General’s Department, is hopeful that opinions and ideas that will spring out of the inaugural staging of the Public Sector Debate Competition will spark action at the highest levels of Government. A brainchild of the Transformation Implementation Unit within the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the competition will see 20 government ministries, departments and agencies debate various moots geared at exploring ideas that could set the public sector on a right path.

The competition was launched recently at the Spanish Court Hotel, Valencia, in St Andrew. The Jamaica Civil Service Association is a partner.

The theme being observed is “Facing Issues, Influencing Solutions”.

Perfect opportunity

“This is the perfect opportunity for us as public sector workers to express the opinions we have about how we can fix the public sector. We have always had talks in the canteens, on the roads, about how we can do things better. This is a medium where we can express ourselves,” Harrison said.

He noted that usually, public sector workers were left out of discussions and “consultants are called in to write what they think, but when you have a sample such as 20 out of about 55 [departments and agencies], I think that is a very good sample to get across the message that we can fix what is wrong with the public sector and that the valid points we will be hearing are incorporated into the wider plan to transform the public sector.”

The competition will start March 20 and culminate on April 25. More than $600, 000 in prizes and awards will be distributed at the end of the competition.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Nigel Clarke, who delivered the main address at the launch, indicated that strengthening the public sector was crucial because in order for Jamaica to demonstrate dominance among global counterparts, having an effective and efficient public sector was critical.

“Many of you here today understand that when you stand in front of the Jamaican customer, you are the embodiment of the State to that person. How often have you heard persons say, ‘Bwoy! The Government wicked’? It is always because of a particular member of the public sector. That is why we have to reform the public sector,” the minister said.

He told The Gleaner following the launch that “this will add value and elevate the voices of those who work in the public sector. We expect there could be ideas we may wish to consider for implementation”.

Among participating entities are the Jamaica Fire Brigade, E-Learning, the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, Clarendon Parish Library, and the Jamaica Customs Agency. Among the moots to be debated is whether or not public sector transformation is a priority of the Government.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com