Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 October 2017
Yesterday – Wednesday October 4th, 2017, was red letter day for Sierra Leone’s Public Service Commission (PSC) as it presented its 2016 annual report to President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House in Freetown.
Sierra Leone’s civil service has in the past thirty years become a constant source of public ridicule for successive governments, after failing to meet the expectations of he public. It is regarded by many as the bedrock of corruption in the country.
So, what’s in this report that is not already known? Has the civil service performed better in the last ten years under president Koroma’s supervision and control, or has it performed much worse?
According to State House Communication Unit, receiving the report yesterday, the president pledged to address the concerns of the PSC, assuring them of government’s continued support. He commended the PSC for the ongoing transformational strides taking place within the civil service, and urged them to continue the measures being put in place.
“We must try to professionalize the civil service as much as we could,” he said, adding that the ongoing transformation of the service is being done against the background that Sierra Leone needs a very efficient civil service, because government can only perform to the extent of the capabilities of the civil service. “
“That is why our focus on energizing the public service is not displaced and we believe the measures you have put in place are on track,” he pointed out.
But who is independently monitoring and measuring the performance of the civil service to ensure that it is value for money and fit for purpose?
President Koroma said that although a lot of professionals are still attracted to the private sector due to improved conditions of service, he encouraged the PSC to recruit the very best – wherever they are. “We are not yet there but we will continue to make the public service more attractive to entice more people from the private sector, like it’s happening in countries like Singapore.
He also lauded the efforts of the commission for the tremendous work they have done to make the civil service more active than before. He indicated that the current moratorium on recruitment in the public service should be looked into, because it is also not helping the civil service in terms of capacity building.
Chairman of the PSC Dr Amadu Max Sesay spoke about the challenges facing the commission, including budgetary constraints. He highlighted the need for a modern, purpose-built PSC House to accommodate a new PSC, a PSC with an oversight and regulatory mandate over the public service.
He said that although the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has commenced the disbursement of funds for the project, the allocations are too small to commission even the demolition of the current building.
The current moratorium on recruitment in the public service he said, “is compounding the situation of unemployment for our graduates”.
Dr Sesay said that history will smile kindly on President Koroma for what the PSC chairman described as waking up the huge constitutional beast (PSC) that went into inglorious slumber for over two decades.
“In some of my early writings on the PSC, your Excellency, I have employed the use of the famous fable, Humpty Dumpty, as a metaphor to capture the experience of the institution. Before you, Humpty Dumpty has a great fall. But since 2008, Sir, the President’s men have been busy at work, putting Humpty Dumpty back together again,” said the PSC chairman.
Presenting an overview of its 2016 annual report, Dr Max Sesay spoke about a number of issues, including scaling up internal reforms, supporting human resource management in the civil service, enforcing discipline and accountability in the public service as well as fostering sector and policy collaboration in the public service.