Civil service reforms

National Federation Party leader and Opposition MP Professor Biman Prasad outside Parliament yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THERE will be more instability in the civil service if Government continues with the civil service reforms, claims National Federation Party leader and Opposition MP Professor Biman Prasad.

He made the statement in response to a ministerial statement by Acting Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Service, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on the civil service reforms in Parliament yesterday.

In his ministerial statement, Mr Sayed- Khaiyum said the reforms ensured that the civil servants could become self-reliant, able to change and meet the demands of the public of delivering services.

“The civil service reform is moving to a phase of consolidation. This doesn’t mean that there are no further new initiatives coming,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“We are pleased to announce plans for a comprehensive Government road safety campaign, the next important phase of the reform.

“This campaign will seek to address the underlying attitude of senior officers who direct their drivers to speed or behave unsafely on our roads.”

In response, Prof Prasad claimed the actual practice of what was going on was that the reforms created a lot of instability and turmoil in the civil service over the past several years.

“I’ve always looked at reforms by Government and organisations. Sometimes it’s very clear that the reforms are intended to hide the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of what’s going on. The civil service reforms by this Government falls into that category,” Prof Prasad claimed.

“It has become a favourite line of this Government that all is rosy, the reforms are working, the civil servants are happy and open merit recruitment system is going on well.

“Madam Speaker, that’s all in theory.

“If the reforms continue in the way it is continuing, we will see more instability, and inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the civil service in the delivery of the service to our people.”

He urged Mr Sayed-Khaiyum to conduct some review of some ministries and departments including the Fiji Police Force.

“I urge the minister to do some review to see whether the open merit system in their recruitment and promotion is working.

“A thorough review of what has happened over the last two or three years, he cannot claim that the reforms are working in terms of creating cohesion in terms of what the civil servants can do,” Prof Prasad added.

While also responding to the statement, Opposition Whip Salote Radrodro said the civil service reform was an initiative of the Laisenia Qarase led government, but was cut short during the 2006 coup.