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Opinions of Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Columnist: Benjamin Essuman

The civil service must be radically reformed

Ghana Civil ServiceGhana Civil Service

The public sector of Ghana is the engine of government business and must therefore be made to perform at its topmost best, so as to get the results expected of the ruling government. It is for this reason that I move that we need to reform our public sector and bring it up to the 21st century business environment.

Folks, if we do not radically reform the civil service, force people to go on retirement, institute performance contract for all employees and plant intelligence officers within our public institutions to spy on the employees, I dare say, our governments will continue to fail.

As a people, we will continue to blame the politicians and sack them, just as we will do to this substandard Akufo-Addo government in 2020, but the underlying problem we have as a country, is the failure of our public institutions.

The civil service is still structured in the format inherited from our colonial masters. Too rigid for reforms. Changes proposed by junior officers are left on the shelves. In this technological age, clients are being forced to print and present documents before they can be worked on. The civil service in Ghana is simply unresponsive to the needs of clients and the times.

Officials feel they have guaranteed for themselves a permanent job, so do not attend to duties as a matter of choice, preferring to rather belong to committees, attend meetings and lobby to be on trips, especially foreign trips, where extra income will be earned in the name of per diem.

In sharp contrast, their classmates who find themselves in the private sector attend to their official duties as if their very lives depend on it.

Surely, the private business thrives on satisfying clients whilst the public sector thrives on taxes collected from the ports, levied on enterprises or deducted from salaries of all workers.

Whilst the Ghanaian working in the private sector is thinking about how to excite clients so as to guarantee his or her job, the Ghanaian public servant or civil servant is on the other hand thinking about his next date of pay or how to smartly squeeze income from members of the public who come for services.

Go to the ports and see how CEPS officials are demanding money from importers, their agents and freight forwarders. Visit the Ministries, Departments and Agencies all over Ghana, the phenomenon is across board.

In 2021, the NDC government should seek as a priority to amend our laws to enable the bonding of all government workers.

Each employee must be given a performance target within a contract period of three years, subject to review after a rigorous interview and evaluation of job done. The bond must entail number of hours at the station, the requests or cases that came to the desk, the time used for execution, feedback from the client, etc.

Being employed in the civil service is not a right. It is a privilege to serve and serve well. Failure to serve well must therefore result in termination of contract. The laziness and extortion by our public sector workers has reached intolerable levels.

The BNI operatives who will be sent into such institutions must install secret cameras to monitor activities, report and arrest unscrupulous state actors.

If we fail to embark on such radical reforms, the Agric Extension Officer stationed in an office at the District Assembly somewhere in ‘loonguskiki’ will continue to use his official working hours to attend meetings, workshops, seminars, supervise the construction of his three bedroom house, go to his farm, visit his girlfriends, enrol in a sandwich program in a College, and at the same time produce fake weekly reports to the Regional Director of Agric for onward transmission to Accra, as if he has been visiting the farms of farmers in the district on daily basis.

New Hope is coming #TakingOver