NEW Public Service Minister, Sonia Parag, has pledged to improve the professionalism of Guyana’s public sector, announcing the establishment of a code of conduct and ethics that she said will be enforced to achieve the desired results.
The Department of Public Service will no longer fall under the Ministry of Presidency but is being reverted to an independent ministry, with three programmes under its command, namely, policy development and administration, human resource development and human resource management.
Having been in office for just over two weeks, the minister said she has observed that the ministry has been running on very low human resource skills. Further, she has noted that the processing time prevents the efficiency and expediency within which things can be done in the public service.
For instance, there is no timeframe for when allowances are granted, or for when vacancies are to be filled. “We have this scholarship department which has no timeframe from the time an application is made to the time of an award. So those are things that I wish to place timeframes on,” she said during a virtual press conference on Monday.
“Those were my first observations and the things that I believe I need to change immediately,” Parag continued.
She stressed that her ministry is committed to fostering a professional public service; a culture of excellence by driving change and innovation, facilitating continuous professional development, implementing administrative reforms, creating conditions for conducive work environment, and promoting and maintaining ethics and accountability in the functioning of government agencies delivering services to the public.
Aside from implementing the code of conduct and ethics, Parag said a periodic evaluation on public servants is also necessary. This will be able to tell of their level of performance with respect to their job description and will allow the ministry to be able to inform them where they are lapsing.
“And it will allow them to interact with the public in such a way that the public will walk away feeling like they’ve just been professionally dealt with,” Parag noted.
However, the consequences of not adhering to the new code have not yet been worked out, but the minister noted that it will be enforced. “I am looking to improve the professionalism of the public service so that when the public comes to deal with them, they will be dealt with in a courteous and polite manner.”
Towards this end, she is examining training that has to do with interfacing with customers in the public service.
Parag offered that her ministry will also be looking to upgrade its website so that a number of processes might be able to be done online, making them expedient and efficient.