The proposed White Paper on Civil Service Reform, which includes radical proposals relating to meritocracy in the civil service, will be presented as a bill in parliament by next year.
But the slow pace of reform, which first saw the light when Eddie Fenech Adami was still Prime Minister, is far from an indication of its overall aim: increasing civil service efficiency.
A spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister told The Malta Financial and Business Times that “it is government’s intention to present a bill for discussion in parliament by 2006.”
The White Paper entitled ‘A Public Service for the 21st Century’ was launched on the 30 October 2003.
In spite of the fact that the general public, public service officials and constituted bodies were invited to give their reactions on the White Paper by 31 December 2003, the same spokesperson announced that “stakeholders comments have been collated” and are still “being reviewed.”
Speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times two weeks ago, the secretary-general of the Union Haddiema Maqghudin Gejtu Vella expressed his disappointment that the white paper is no longer being discussed.
“It seems that the government has stopped the process of discussion on this white paper. We had organised a conference on this issue. Unfortunately this positive initiative to improve and update the civil service to modern realities has been stopped.”
Yet according to the same spokesperson the government is still committed to introduce these reforms.
A major innovation in the White Paper is the principle of merit. The white paper states that promotions would be made according to merit, not through automatic progression.
The White Paper also states that the heads of departments will have the facility to create positions according to their departments’ needs and to engage employees in positions rather than grades.
A Merit Protection Commission with a mandate to monitor appointments in ministries and departments, government agencies, and other government entities is also being proposed.
The White Paper also proposed the creation of a Ministry responsible for the civil service
One important innovations enshrined in the white paper is the protection of whistle blowers who report wrongdoing in the civil service, from victimisation.