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Jamaica: PSOJ Agrees with Government on Public Sector Reform
Source: jamaicaobserver.com
Source Date: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Country: Jamaica
Created: Oct 28, 2010

REPRESENTATIVES of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) last week made submissions to the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament telling the committee that it was in full agreement with the central premise of the Public Sector Rationalisation Programme, the body tasked with restructuring the public sector.

Peter Melhado, who presented on behalf of PSOJ president Joseph Matalon last Wednesday, said that the PSOJ was in agreement with the premise that "what government should do and pay for; what government must pay for, but does not have to do; and what government should do and should not pay for."

Melhado's presentation to the committee was short as the submissions were contained in a document that was previously distributed to the members.

He said one thing that was missing from the recommendations contained in the green paper was the priority that should be given to the areas under review. He said the Governments legislative agenda must be paced to support the changes being proposed.

According to him, there was no argument with intended outcomes, but its success ultimately depended on the leadership that would be offered to effect the objectives.

Without commenting on the rationalisation plan, the PSOJ had observations of its own.

On the role of government ministries, the PSOJ believed that over the years the ministries have widened their mandates and often created overlapping role with other ministries and agencies.

"While the research behind these proposed changes have clearly been done, we note that there has been no compression in the number of ministries which we believe would have allowed for even greater efficiency through scale down at the individual entity level...," the PSOJ said.

As a result, a large number of entities have been transferred between ministries. Accordingly, the PSOJ feels that it will take a great deal of planning and strong implementation to execute and absorb the level of change proposed within the expected timeframes.

The PSOJ, however, did not say if it believed that merging any of the current 16 ministries would be an effective, cost-saving effort.

It agreed that the proposed shared service clusters made good sense, as some services are duplicated across ministries and pointed to the merging or consolidating of entities with a similar mandate or customer grouping, as imperative, and a good example being proposed for the Ministry of Mining.

Committee member Michael Stern challenged the PSOJ to lend its leadership, experience and expertise to the programme to help Government achieve its goals of restructuring the sector for greater efficiency.

Another area of observation was the compensation and leave policy, with the PSOJ stating that the leave structure that currently obtains is above what pertains in other jurisdictions and inimical to competitive bureaucracy. It said the examination and streamlining of these issues should be part of any comprehensive review of government machinery.

The PSOJ also offered comments on pension reform, treasury management, divestment and privatisation, as well as outsourcing.

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