Speaking at today’s 99th Annual General Meeting the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), Dr Clarke underscored the importance of transforming the public service into a modern sector that is fair, values people, and consistently delivers high quality services.
“The transformation of the public sector is a priority on which the Ministry of Finance will be focused given the significance placed on it by the Government of Jamaica,” the Finance Minister stated emphatically.
The Minister asserted that the Government is intent on conducting the transformation process in fair and consultative manner as success in achieving a transformed public sector will require the collective input of ministries, departments, agencies, unions, workers, civil society and the private sector.
“We are guided by the philosophy which interrogates “what are the things that government should do and pay for; what are the things that government must pay for, but does not have to do; and what are the things that government should not do and should not pay for.” he said.
Dr Clarke advised that much progress has been made to provide hassle-free service to all stakeholders. As such it is an imperative that we apply laser-like focus in dealing with inefficiencies that are structurally embedded in how we work to the strengthen the ability of the public sector to perform at its optimum.
The Minister advised that, “today, you can get your passport within 24 hours; you can apply and pay for your birth certificate without leaving your home and receive it within three days; and you pay taxes and traffic fines online.”
He stressed however that we must apply the productivity enhancing lessons from those experiences while harnessing the power of technology to make processes more efficient.
Turning to Compensation
The Minister used the opportunity to address the complex compensation structure that exists within the public sector which was unearthed by a review of public sector compensation conducted by the Transformation Implementation Team in 2017.
He said that the existing structure allows for a separation in the treatment of salaries and allowances where, in the past, the planned parameters for increases to salaries have not held for increases to some allowances resulting in wage bill increases that have been more than programmed for in the budget. This complexity has also served to constrain the Government’s ability to review and modernise compensation as given the typical wage cycle, with 40 bargaining units to negotiate with within each two year period, more often than not only level of wages and allowances can be considered.
“We intend to work with our partners, in a consultative manner, to among other things, overhaul the compensation system resulting in a simpler compensation structure applied across the public sector in a consistent manner, reform the allowance structure in the public sector and develop a modern compensation policy and philosophy that guides the development and management of compensation in the public sector and serves to properly compensate employees, encourage performance and moderate the rate of growth of our total wage bill.” the Minister advised.
In closing the Minister asserted that, “the partnership we seek is one that results in a faster, more agile public service. We must harness ingenuity, be dynamic and open to constant improvement. We must move from the ‘Fear of Failure’ to a ‘Desire for Success.”
The Annual General Meeting was attended by scores of JCSA representatives and public officials.
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