Vanuatu Public Service Commission Policies Under Review

'Major changes' expected to better help public servants

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 22, 2017) – Major changes are expected in the Public Service Commission (PSC) this year as Chairman Martin Mahe and his commission engage in reviewing important policies to not only better the service provided but also better take care of the welfare of public servants.

On Saturday last week the working hours of public servants was amended for the first time ever to improve productivity.

Now the Commission is turning its focus to reviewing performance, recruitment, and retirement policies to mend the loopholes which Mr Mahe said has built up with time, and changes weakening the PSC as a whole.

“Performance management workshop initiated by the Public Service Commission is trying to address the issue of performance that has raised a lot of concerns in the public service,” said Chairman Mahe.

The last group of public servants that attended such workshop last week were the Director Generals (DG) and Directors, those who play leading roles inside the Public Service.

As a follow up of the performance management workshop, there will be mentoring for all public servants that have attended the training.

“Mentoring is the main focus of the commission as we try to regain the attention of Directors and DGs to focus on the performance of their staff in their respective units, departments, and ministries,” said Mr Mahe.

“While we want to adjust working hours, we also have to look at the performance of public servants.

“When we talk about performance, we are talking about a full review of the full mechanism of the performance of the Public Service at the moment.

“We will ensure that these issues must be addressed. We have identified that process takes time but after careful analysis we are looking at identifying ways or processes that are more light and efficient in terms of performance management of staff.”

The energetic PSC Chairman added that it is “important to note that performance also comes with recognition therefore the current Commission is emphasizing that while we push for performance of public servants, at the end of the day we will have to recognize their contribution to the development of our nation”.

That is part of the whole review being undertaken by the public service this year.

Mahe said they have been getting and are expecting a lot of criticism that evolve from “narrow perspectives” but the efforts of the current commission regarding the reviews are targeting a bigger picture.

“At the moment we know that there are areas that are handicapped and weak. In order to strengthen those areas it is necessary to make these changes to better our public service.

“Our wish for the future is to strive for excellence inside the public service.

“If we succeed in making these changes for the better it is going to change the perception of the public in general towards the public service.

“At the moment majority of the comments are negative comments but we have to start somewhere in order to achieve these changes for a better public service for tomorrow.

“If the changes we make today fail to suit the current circumstances, another option can be considered tomorrow but sleeping on these issues for years is not an option.

“We have to start somewhere and the present commission has a call to serve and that is the focus that we plan to bring into the public service to bring it to another level.

“Now we are at the policy drafting phase, the policies include recruitment policies, and performance.

“But it is the issue of performance that will lead to the recognition and awards. We also have retirement policy.”

He said at the moment the PSC is working around the clock to make sure that these policies are delivered because once completed they will be incorporated into the new Public Service Staff Manual which will be launched this year.

The last changes in the Public Service Staff Manual were done in 2008.

Mahe explained that there are a lot of loopholes in the current policy. It used to work ok at one stage but as time passes, developments happen, the country’s environment changes, so is the demands of public servants.

“In order to maintain the working collaboration between the employer and workers in a friendly direction, we have to review those policies.”

He said the Public Service Commission and the public servants must have a common understanding in these policies before they are made official for all public servants to comply with.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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