Public servants facing big challenges

Editorial

IT is often been said that the public service is the engineroom of any country.
When it fails to function, or stops functioning, Government plans and services grind to a halt.
The ones who suffer the most are the members of the public who expect, and deserve to be provided, efficient and effective services.
That is what matters most in any democratically-elected administration – service to the people.
So it is important that the engineroom should be working well and, equally important, driving the Government’s plans forward in an efficient manner.
It is important that the public service must be resolute in its stand and deliver the service expected.
Last weekend, heads of departments were challenged by Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari to focus on providing goods and services as outlined in the supplementary budget.
The have to identify where the leaks in the dam are and plug them. They have to identify, too, the sources of wastage and fix them.
In short, the public service needs to be efficient, lean, cost-conscious and productive.
The department heads should know what they are expected to achieve.
They know, too, that it all comes down to proper planning and organisation, taking into consideration the limited funding and resources each department has been given.
Public Service Minister Elias Kapavore emphasised the need to be prudent and smart in managing the limited funds, especially in remote areas.
Public servants over time have always been challenged to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
That means they must learn to listen, look around with an open mind to what the people face every day, and fix their problems.
It is not easy, but to deliver services efficiently they have first to comprehend the kind of life people lead.
For example, one has to go down to the grassroots people, live with them, eat with them, sleep with them in their humble abodes to understand the hardship they experience and why they continue to cry out for these services.
Areas that need improvement are punctuality and productivity. At least two ministers recently reminded staff in their departments to exercise discipline, be more productive and to treat their work seriously.
The PNG habit of getting things done slowly and in a leisurely manner must stop. The old bad habits of arriving after 8am, the frequent absenteeism, taking unnecessary breaks, using positions and influences for personal gain have to come to an end.
Work ethics refer to a basic set of moral values associated with the way work is done whatever its nature or status.
Honesty, responsibility, discipline and diligence are values we inculcate in children from an early stage linking these up with performance in school and early childhood tasks.
In adult life, these values should translate into hard work, efficiency, discipline and integrity at the workplace.
While talking about the general trend of poor work ethics, we must not lose sight of the fact that there will always be segment of the workforce that displays a good sense of work ethics.
They do not just believe in but also demonstrate their honesty, integrity and accountability at the workplace.  Hardworking and committed, these people contribute to the country’s progress to the best of their ability.
What we need is for a critical mass to be turned into an expanded labour force with strong work ethics.
One thing though, they also have their own challenges in performing their duties.
We like to believe that the public service had evolved over the past 41 years after facing challenges mostly political in nature and make-up.
Thankfully it is slowly moving away from the old ways of doing things, using traditions and old practices as the excuses for laxity and lethargy in the public service.
The challenge is now on every public servant, especially those delivering on the frontline, to move away some more from the bad habits and continue to develop a new culture of service delivery.

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