30 July 2003

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Toon this week: Let them eat pastizzi...

Heads have to role

We often say that Malta is 50 years behind the rest of the world and while there is some truth in the matter, it is nothing to be proud of. The restructuring of certain sectors of our economy has been mooted for years but progress has been extremely slow. While Malta hesitates other countries will be getting ahead and in the new larger market we cannot afford to be left behind.
The civil service is so large and all pervading in Malta that bureaucratic hurdles are not easily overcome and attempts at modernisation can be hijacked by civil service inefficiency. Malta has managed to make an all important first psychological step in recognising that civil servants have to deliver. The pressure is on for heads of departments to ensure that colleagues draw up plans and strategies and work towards stipulated targets.
The realisation that the civil service has to pull its weight is the first step, but it is not enough. While government workers do not have to face the public to take and keep their jobs, there are people who are in a position to make them responsible for their actions.
Politicians are elected not only to ensure that government departments work smoothly and efficiently, but also to take action where people are not accountable.
If Enemalta plans to meet electricity demand but we are now experiencing power and water cuts, someone is surely responsible. If the MEPA board takes a decision outside its remit, it should be held accountable. If rents owed to government are meant to be collected but are left wallowing in a sea of figures long forgotten, someone should be held responsible.
Alfred Sant did take a shot at bringing civil servants to book by ensuring that they actually are at their place of work when they should be, that was surely a step in the right direction. A small step, but definitely the way to go. Time keeping is essential, but it is delivery of service that Malta is crying out for.
When business plans are prepared for each government department at the beginning of the year it should be pointed out that failure to perform will result in the chopping of heads. Unless this threat is in place those civil servants who do not live up to expectations know they will get by with, at the most ,a small slap on their wrist. Professional performance evaluations are essential and accountability is central to ensuring that standards are maintained. Malta and this government has talked, talked, talked. We are sick of all the talking. We need to move towards the deliver, deliver, deliver mode.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail