“No political interference in the Civil & Public Service” – SG

By Kebba Jeffang

Mr. Dawda Fadera, Secretary General and Head of Civil Service on Monday, 27th February informed that in the current dispensation, both the civil and public services would be given space and authority to operate without political affiliation.

While talking to journalists at Kairaba Beach hotel after holding meeting with the heads of departments, Fadera said the new government is committed to openness, transparency and accountability.

He said the senior management team of the government is meeting for the first time at the policy level since his appointment. He said they met to discuss important matters geared towards promoting a new vision of the government.

“It brought together all the heads of departments both in the civil service and the public service including public enterprises.

“I reminded them that President Barrow is committed to openness, transparency and accountability and he has asked me to inform all the heads of departments to make sure that this key pillar should be applied in all our interactions within the public service,” he said.

“And more importantly, he (the President) wants us to adopt a system where bureaucracy will be considerably reduced so that the implementation of our key programmes will be fast tracked. We want qualitative service delivery for the public. He (the President) has asked us at the technical level to work together and come out with an orderly process that will genuinely empower all these sectors. Each sector will now be fully empowered to be given the space and the authority so that they can execute their mandates without any political interference. He does not want us to micro manage the sectors from the office of the president. This is a new dispensation and to do this we also must strengthen the oversight institutions of government such as National Audit Office (NOA), the internal audit systems, the management board of enterprises, the public service commission and Personnel Management Office (PMO),” he said.

The SG said the oversight institutions will regulate the institutions as this government according to him is going to play by the book in terms of due process. He said there will be regular auditing that will allow no excuse for any person and all the queries and reports will be properly applied using the avenues within the laws of the Gambia.

However, he said in as much as the civil and public institutions will not be micro managed from the Office of the President, no person must use that as a license to engage in malpractices, misconduct and indiscipline in the public service, as that is not going to be condoned. He added, “And all avenues will be taken to make sure anyone who is found wanting in that area, the law will take its full course.”

“Another important area we discussed was discipline in the public service about people coming on time at work. In the past everybody writes to the Office of the President when decision is to be taken whether to dismiss, demote or whatever. This is no more. Now we want sectors to take charge of their institutions. If you are a managing director, director general or permanent secretary of any institution you have adequate instruments at your disposal so you need to apply those instruments to ensure that order and decorum exists in the office settings,” he said.

He said they all agreed that in the system even in the past they do not lack the standard regulatory environment as they have the books, general orders and the Public Service Act and other relevant laws. He said the problem had always been their inability to adhere to those rules which he said should stop.

When he was questioned about the accessibility of information at the various departments and institutions by journalists in order to hold them to account to the public, Mr. Fadera said President Barrow is committed to transparency and accountability and that will be the corner stone of the new dispensation.

The former permanent secretary at the Personnel Management Office (PMO) went on to add “we are ready for that and in the past the media bill has been looked at and initiative on that will be taken very soon. In the past talking to the media I am aware the sectors cannot talk to the media without permission from the Head of Service for there were a lot of hostile environment relating to dealing with the media but this is going to change. We have to get the experts to come and look at the media bill. When they are reviewing it we make sure it is contemporary, media friendly and responsive to our current situation. Once that is done and it becomes law obviously everything will change.”

SG and civil service head added that the current government is obedient to law and order as the corner stone of the new dispensation. He said as he is aware, there is no new directors employed meaning they will retain those who were in the previous government.