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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (January 28, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---President Kessai Note, in his words, "encouraged" government employees to come to work at 8:00 a.m. and stay until 5:00 p.m.

In a speech to the Nitijela Tuesday, he exhorted Marshallese to pull together and improve their work habits. Later in the day speaking with the Journal, Note said one of the goals of his new administration is to improve the productivity of the public service, and lead by example.

A check of the capital building offices earlier this week by Journal staff suggests that the President’s message is having an affect, as workers appeared to be in their offices in greater numbers than in recent years. Some people in government, however, are working an hour and a half a day, but getting paid for a full eight hours, Note said.

"It’s an attitude left over from earlier generations," he said, adding that it has to change. There are many younger, newly educated Marshallese returning home to work in government. But if they get under the wrong supervisor, they can easily and quickly lose their interest and enthusiasm to work, the President said.

Government Ministers have been part of the problem, too, he believes. "We’re going to let the program managers do their jobs," he said. All Ministers are going to work at the capital building, not in offices in the different ministries – which can have the effect of discouraging the workforce by micro-managing the workers. "We’re policy makers," he said. "They are program managers."

Part of the new government’s effort will be to review public service regulations and organization to look at ways to improve government service, he indicated.

But in the shorter term, leading by example – Ministers being on time for work – is a way to encourage workers to do an "honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay," the President said.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail:  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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