The recent court ruling against the Public Service Commission (PSC) is a damning one for the PSC and by extension the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government. The court ruled that the PSC has failed to comply with specific regulations in relation to the promotion of several public service officers.
The judge ordered the PSC to establish and implement forthwith and maintain an efficient, transparent and effective performance and appraisal promotion regime within the public service (including robust and functional monitoring and corrective mechanisms) in accordance with the stipulations of regulation 18, 19, 20, and 27 of the public service regulation.
The following are the regulations: Regulation (18), addresses the advertisement of vacancies; (19), the principles of selection for promotion, “In considering the eligibility of officers for promotion, the Commission shall take into account the seniority, experience, educational qualifications, merit and ability together with relative efficiency of such officers and, in the event of an equality of efficiency or two or more officers, shall give consideration to the relative seniority of officers available for promotion to the vacancy.”; (20) mandates the Chief Personnel Officer to keep up to date seniority lists of all officers holding office in the several grades of the public service. And (27), “In order to assist the Commission in performing its functions, Permanent Secretaries and head of departments shall, in each year on or before the last day of February, furnish to the Chief Personnel Officer, confidential reports in respect of officer serving in their ministries or departments. Such reports shall relate to the 12 months ended on the preceding 31st December.”
While the members of the PSC are politically appointed, they are expected to function independently of political interference. But, can we say that of the present PSC? Since the ULP has been in power, we have heard complaints from public servants of victimization.
Based on the ruling, we can deduce that victimization exists in the public service and therefore, it is institutionalized in the ULP administration. It is obvious that the PSC has been doing a poor job. And the New Democratic Party (NDP) supports the call by the Public Service Union for the members of the PSC to resign.
The ULP administration has been characterized by victimization, lack of transparency and lack of accountability; and is seen as the most corrupt to govern St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The NDP will practice good governance and implement its policy of meritocracy.
A meritocracy is a socio-political system that rewards persons on the basis of their skills, effort and performances and not by virtue of their affiliation to a political party, religious grouping, race or social class. Essentially, a meritocracy is based on merit.
The concept of merit is synonymous with ability. Therefore, a person’s ability to perform at the requisite standard will attract the reward and opportunities associated with his or her position at the work place and in that person’s field of endeavour.
Merit can also be associated with praise and adulation for the propriety or good consequences of one’s actions. Hence a meritocracy motivates persons not only to excel at the work place but generally to engage in conduct that can be considered praiseworthy.
Accordingly, public servants can rest assured and feel comforted in the knowledge that upward mobility and career growth will be based primarily on performance. In such a healthy environment trust and confidence will be restored and productivity will increase.
The application of meritocratic principles in the public service will have the effect of influencing the private sector along similar lines. Essentially, persons will work harder to achieve greater rewards and the country will benefit from the increased goods and services that will be the products of improved skill and greater effort.
Over the past seventeen years, Vincentians have experienced rampant victimization in the public service and to a lesser extent in the private sector as well.
Many have not been granted promotion, some have been put into early retirement, others have been transferred to jobs that do not require their expertise and in some instances those persons were relegated to sitting at desks with no function to perform and there are those who were deliberately humiliated and harassed into resigning from their jobs or were unceremoniously fired.
The public sector is plagued with many disgruntled and dissatisfied workers who lack the motivation and the will power to perform to the best of their abilities due to the unequal and iniquitous treatment that they are experiencing.
The New Democratic Party recognizes that this form of polarization along party political lines, retards growth. In recognition of the virtues of a meritocracy the New Democratic Party pledges to all public servants and Vincentians as a whole that we will provide equal opportunities at the outset to all Vincentians in education, sports, culture, health, national security and justice, agriculture, tourism, financial services, manufacturing and services generally.
We will not engage in political victimization but we are strongly of the view that we should ensure that square pegs are not placed in round holes.
Politics is about people, economics is for the people. No matter what is done or not done or how it is done or not done, it is done for the people with the assistance of the people. We are cognizant of the fact that our country cannot effectively, efficiently and economically function only with supporters of the New Democratic Party.
Opportunities will be created for all, without regard to their political affiliation and rewards will be commensurate with effort and performance – those are the hall marks of a meritocracy.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be a haven for those who wish to excel in their respective fields of endeavours. Hence, Towards a Meritocracy under NDP prosperity for all ‘ah we’.