Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has paid tribute to public servants in a message to mark Public Service Day, in which he also highlighted the value of the public service.
“Your commitment to public service is commendable,” Chastanet stated.
“We have just recently witnessed in real time– and indeed we are still witnessing it– the value of public service, as together as a nation, we fight the onslaught of the Corona virus,” the Prime Minister observed.
The text of his address is reproduced below:
My fellow Saint Lucians, today we recognize worldwide, Public Service Day, to celebrate the value and virtue of the public service to the community.
On behalf of the government, I would like to salute all public servants and all those who give public service, in whatever capacity, on this very important occasion. Your commitment to public service is commendable. Yours is the responsibility to translate the policies and programmes of the government into action, for the benefit of the people. It is a tremendous responsibility, one that my government hopes you will continue to execute with integrity and professionalism, impartiality and honesty.
An effective public officer is one who goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve the interest of the greater good. We recognize that your efforts are always scrutinized and often criticized– criticism that is not always warranted or justified– but also provide opportunities for reflection about your goals to determine what can be done to create better public value for the citizens.
We have just recently witnessed in real time– and indeed we are still witnessing it– the value of public service, as together as a nation, we fight the onslaught of the Corona virus. It is mainly public service personnel who have been in the forefront of this battle to keep our country and people safe. The results that we have achieved, are clear indication, that you have all done a truly remarkable job, and deserve the highest commendation from the rest of us.
COVID -19 has actually taken us all into unchartered territory, which required everyone working together to achieve the desired results. In so doing everyone was called on to play his/her part. Public officers were called on to make significant sacrifices in the line of duty, to care for the sick, to enforce law and order, to ensure the machinery of government continued to operate despite a drastic scaling down of activities including a curfew.
To our frontliners – police, firemen, correctional officers, customs officers, nurses, doctors, emergency and essential service workers I say again a heartfelt thank you. I must also say a very special thank you to those individuals who supported the frontliners. You came from various Ministries and Departments. It was an extraordinary example of Public Service in action, which resonates with the theme of this year’s Public Service Day observance: “Action Today, Impact Tomorrow: Innovating and Transforming Public Services and Institutions to Realize the Sustainable Development Goals.“
Government is constantly working to enhance the delivery of services to the people via our public service agencies. In 2019 we approved a significant budget for the implementation of the “Digital Government Integrated eServices Platform (DigiGov)” Project which aims to put on line 154 service across 13 Agencies. This is a direct response to gaps identified in the delivery of timely, efficient and transparent services offered by the Government to the public and the business sector.
Also, the implementation of the Caribbean Regional Integration Project (CARCIP) is aimed at providing the infrastructure for Government agencies to become more efficient and effective whilst reducing Government’s overall communication bill. CARCIP does not only provide opportunities for the public sector to become more efficient; it can also be leveraged so that private citizens can take advantage of it.
I want to give the assurance that the government’s efforts at transforming the public service will always place the well-being of staff at the forefront of its agenda. Our current efforts, though more digitally based, would require changes in processes, job descriptions, organizational structures, different approaches to training and more. We recognize that substantial change management efforts will be required which would involve all stakeholders, especially staff who will be expected to deliver but who also themselves are recipients of the service.
As we undertake these digital transformation exercises we must be cognizant of the fact that we are mandated to do so in a manner that realizes the Sustainable Development Goals as identified by the United Nations. These goals, agreed to and endorsed by 195 nations, aim at improving the lives of people in their country by the year 2030,
In a study by the World Economic Forum and PriceWaterhouseCoopers it is suggested that two-thirds of the 169 targets underpinning the global Sustainable Development Goals could be bolstered by technological innovation, the objective of which is to improve services such as healthcare, education and gender, to name a few.
Some people may ask: is this possible bearing in mind our limited resources? The answer is a resounding Yes! We experienced this possibility when were called upon to innovate as a result of COVID-19. It was a first for us in tele-medicine, where citizens were provided with the opportunity to connect a health care advisor via telephone to receive a diagnosis and guidance on the treatment of symptoms.
Parents, teachers and children experienced the power of online learning. Obviously, there were challenges, but the experience, I am sure, would have been a fulfilling and even productive one for most. We were called on to innovate and this required taking basic services to the people, especially the more vulnerable among us. No doubt there needs to be improvement but the Government stands committed to making this possible in light of the new reality brought on COVID-19. As we journey on, we commit to leaving no one behind.
This commitment is evident in the GINET project that seeks to bridge the digital divide and develop a more connected and enabled society. Again, we must strengthen and expand this to reach more individuals, but the efforts are obviously visible to all.
All these innovations will help change the face of the public service for the better and bring the rationale for the observance of this day into focus, which is to “celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community”. It is clear that we in Saint Lucia are moving positively in this direction.
I wish all public service workers in Saint Lucia a Happy Public Service Day and once again thank you for your support and your service to your country. May God bless you all.