In light of a rapidly changing global environment and an increasing demand for government services, efforts will be made to modernise and professionalise the public sector, Minister of Public Service Ms. Sonia Parag has said.
Ms. Parag told News Talk Radio 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News that the new government plans to provide efficient benefits now and in the future for public servants, citizens and businesses. “Our goal is to ensure that we have a public sector that meets the standard of professionalism and modernisation,” she stated.
The minister, who has already met with various division heads within her ministry, said that better public service delivery through the improved management of data, information and communications, and better management of critical resources in the public sector would also be of top priority for her ministry.
Ms Parag underscored the importance of public service which she said is crucial in shaping a flourishing, productive and equitable Guyana. However, she wants to see Guyana’s public service compete with the rest of the world. “You want persons in key positions to be properly qualified. Employment in the public service must have that standard with countries in the Caribbean and on par with other countries, internationally,” she added.
The minister acknowledged that training of public service employees forms an integral and important part of the sector and that the training division is a necessary tool in that process. The minister said training will continue with the aim of ensuring the objectives of realising a more professional public service workforce.
Meanwhile, given the public’s negative perception of the public service, Ms Parag said she is committed to working towards changing that image. She said the new government will foster an open and rigorous performance culture within the public service to ensure greater accountability that helps to bolster standards of service and improve outcomes.
Asked whether specific focus will be placed on addressing concerns that scholarships are not equitably distributed and only favours politicians and their families, Minister Parag said, “those concerns will be examined thoroughly. All concerns voiced will be taken into consideration,” explaining that it remains an important department within her ministry.
Under the previous government a Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service was done. The Commission made several key recommendations which included redesigning the compensation system to assist in attracting qualified and suitable persons to the public service. Another recommendation was made with regards to implementing a well-constructed and managed base pay programme to ensure competitiveness and fairness in pay among positions, contribution to strategic objectives, and efficiency and effectiveness.
Under the previous government, public servants received large salary increases, with the minimum wage moving from $39,570 in 2015 to $64,200 in 2019. On the other hand, the national minimum wage moved from $26,070 in 2006 to $39,570 in 2015 under the previous People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government.