Thu | Dec 3, 2020

Ja’s economic gains could be threatened without public sector reform – Roberts

Published:Monday | July 1, 2019 | 12:30 AM
Danny Roberts
Danny Roberts

Co-chairman of the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee (PSTOC), Danny Roberts, said the economic gains made by the country in the last five years could be reversed if we do not centre our priority and shift our focus to the urgency and necessity of transforming the public sector.

Speaking at the second quarterly meeting of the St Andrew Justices of the Peace Association on Saturday, Roberts argued that the challenges associated with the age of robotics, artificial intelligence, automation, climate change and demographic shifts require effective, accountable and inclusive public institutions to guarantee a better life in the future. He pointed to a recent study done by the World Bank which underscored the importance of quality public institutions to sustainable development, and the growing body of research explaining that the adequacy and effectiveness of public institutions are what accounts for the differences in growth rates and development trends across developing countries.

Roberts informed that Jamaica’s attempt at public-sector transformation dates back to 1984, the same time with New Zealand. He stated that while we have had some measure of success over the past 30 years, the Global Competitiveness Index ranks the quality of our public institutions at 82, while New Zealand is ranked number one.

CRITICAL STEPS

The PSTOC co-chair noted that the perception about public-­sector transformation is too focused on the size and cost of the public sector, which will not engender confidence among public servants to enthusiastically embrace the need for reform. He said the Transformation Implementation Unit has identified five main ­pillars under public-sector reform, ­including efficiency and ­information and communications technology upgrade, shared ­corporate services, human resource management transformation, rationalisation of public bodies, and compensation ­management. Roberts argued that these are critical steps, but must be supported by a transition phase which bring both the ­public and public-­sector workers on the journey and create an ­emotional investment in ­public-sector transformation.

He added that a recent report from the global management consulting firm, McKinsey, pointed to the fact that 80 per cent of the efforts at public-sector transformation have failed. Roberts said that as citizens, we are part of a social contract that requires our full participation in defining the priority and policy direction to ensure that government deliver on the public goods.

The PSTOC co-chair urged his audience to ensure that in the post-IMF period public-sector transformation “moves from a ­veritable trot to a pace and intensity that signals that as a government and a people, we have the ability, capacity and fortitude to be ­masters of our own fate.”