Features — 04 October 2013 — by Janus

Unless we set high standards, our country will never become the great nation it was destined to be. High standards of conduct and performance should be established and maintained in every sphere of our private and public lives but, especially, in our schools, in our public services, in our government and, above all, in our House of Representatives, the highest institution in the land.

If we had high standards, the officer in charge of a Coast guard vessel that was to escort the Dominican Prime Minister on a trip to San Pedro, Ambergis Caye, would have been at least fifteen minutes early, instead of hours late. What is more, the Commandant of the Coast Guard would be in touch with him to make sure he could complete his mission and, if he could not, there would be a vessel on standby to take his place. Why all this careful preparation? Because the President of Dominica was the personal guest of the Prime Minister of Belize and, our country’s reputation as a good host was at state.

If we had high standards a Maya Monument would not be bulldozed for material to build roads. How remiss is our public education. Why is it that every schoolboy and schoolgirl does not know what a great treasure is our Mayan heritage and that these monuments are priceless?

I could list other examples where lack of high standards in our public life has caused us pain and suffering that my readers are aware of.

Who is to blame for this state of affairs? Of course, it is the government. Which government? All the governments. Actually, it’s all the people but, that is not important. What is important is, who will set the standards? Of course, it has to be the government. Which government? This government. They have the power. All that is needed is the will. Let’s assume that they have the will. Where shall they begin? Here’s one man’s opinion.

A lot of misuse and abuse of power by public officials, a lot of mistakes by these offices due to bad or poor advice, a lot of wasteful and extravagant spending of public funds; and a lot of dishonest and corrupt practices which have become endemic in certain government departments, are all due to the adoption and implementation of an idea by one of the members of its brain trust that the public service should be run like a business run by Chief Executive Officers. There are two things wrong with this idea. Firstly I think a caller on a television show this morning (September 2) said it best, the government of the nation is not about money, it is about service. The Public Service is not a business. Secondly a CEO, like his minister, has a five-year term. Their fortunes are bound together. Thirdly, no government with a Westminster model parliamentary system has uplifted the masses from privation. Amongst Caricom countries, Barbados which has been most faithful to that system is the most prosperous. And, lastly, if CEO’s were more suitable, the British Parliament would have adopted it, long ago. I have to ask this question. Have we had higher standards of conduct and performance in the public service, since the CEO experiment? I’ll say no more because the idea has taken root. The ministers are wedded to the CEO’s and neither the UDP nor PUP will end the experiment, until they see the light or until the people change it by a referendum.

To get back. How can we raise our standards of conduct and performance? That is something for our best minds to find the answers. What I know is this. First we have to create a climate and a culture of discipline, like the Spartans.

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