Mar 17, 2020, 5:33 PM
The annual state opening of the National Assembly is usually an occasion for the government to present its legislative programme, and Monday’s ceremony in Banjul was no exception.
Yet the year 2014, as with every year, has its unique aspects, with the head of state and government speaking of a “new paradigm shift in public service delivery”.
The government, we are told, “is poised to introduce ‘client charters’ for all sectors for greater performance accountability, citizen engagement and responsiveness to all government programs. The charter will require all sectors to make public their key mandates and services provided.
“In this new paradigm shift in public service delivery, every sector will be held accountable for the expected outcomes they owe to their clientele.
‘Sector need to be able to explain how long it takes to clear a container; to secure a passport; to register a business; and what is the emergency response time for the police, fire and rescue services, for instance.”
Good, in fact, belated or long overdue, some would say!
However, as they always say – it’s better late than never.
Indeed, the new approach will help in creating a ‘serious work’ ethic in public servants, and should definite do a lot of good to their productivity.
The public would also know that they will be attended to promptly, when they go to a public institution, and be certain that their problems will be addressed within a specific time-frame.
It will, no doubt, help build confidence in government service.
But it will require the availability of resources to deliver, if we want good results.
Actually, nothing will be possible in the absence of the material and human resources to enable public service workers perform their duties as expected.
Good pay is one essential ingredient, in this regard.
That is why the reform of the pay and pensions system should be expedited, as this will boost the government’s capacity “to attract and retain quality human capital for effective service delivery”.
In this regard, the revival of the civil service revolving loan scheme is a good incentive.
In addition, when one recalls the contents of the auditor-general’s report on public finances, perhaps of equal importance are the planned amendments to instruments such as the Gambia budget management accountability Act, “so as to provide greater control in the use of public resources and funds,” and address the critical need for “efficiency and effectiveness of financial management in government”.
Also bearing in mind the usual findings of non-compliance with GPPA rules, revealed at the annual joint sessions of the PAC/PEC, the announced plans to reform the public procurement process would ensure respect for our national laws, and adherence to best practice.
“We need more transparency and accountability in government so that people know how their money is being spent. That means putting budgets online, putting legislation online.”