Government's recruitment process under fire

The Government’s recruitment process to fill vacancies in ministries and state-run agencies has come under scrutiny from Vaimauga East Member of Parliament, Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa.

Speaking in Parliament, the M.P. pointed to the various vacancies in the Ministries and urged the relevant authorities to get on with their job and get the positions filled. 

“People are mocking our Government because we are not following our own guidelines," he said.

He said the recruiting authority — whether it is the Public Service Commission or the Chief Executive Officers — should work on filling the vacant positions as soon as possible. 

According to Sulamanaia, there are 150 vacancies within the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) and yet there are so many who continue to look for jobs. 

He then turned to the Ministers and reminded them that the Government is a service provider.

“That’s why the Prime Minister is always aggressive when it comes to issues," he said. 

"It's because the Ministers are not doing their job. And members of the public end up going to see the Prime Minister, because the Ministers are not doing their jobs."

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi intervened.

He defended the delay in filling the positions, saying it comes down to “unqualified applicants".

“There are new positions added to the Government’s workforce due to a number of new projects; also there are other positions that calls for certain skills set and yet difficult to fill. 

“That’s why there are certain C.E.O. positions that have been advertised and sometimes only one applicant who applies because some people know they lack qualifications."

Tuilaepa also said Cabinet will inspect the panelist’s recommendations thoroughly. 

"Members of the public that have been selected by the P.S.C. on the interviewing panelists are qualified to do the job. And the final decision lies with Cabinet. 

“Keep in mind the panelists consist of three or four members versus 13 Cabinet Ministers. And 90 percent of recommendations are accepted by Cabinet, but the 10 percent of decisions are overturned. 

"We have applicants with outstanding credentials; however they lack the experience and so it is not that the Government is not doing their job, rather it’s the lack of qualifications."

Sulamanaia initially raised this issue in the January 2019 Parliament session, where he accused the Cabinet of interfering with the Public Service Commission's recruitment process for C.E.Os. 

The comments were made when the M.P.’s were deliberating on a bill to amend the Ministry of Health Act 2006 and repeal the National Health Services Act 2014. 

He noted that under the proposed legislation, functions overseeing human resources management and development will come under the umbrella of the P.S.C. 

“It’s also good to hear that Public Service Commission will soon focus on the training aspect of the Government workforce. One of their mandates is the interview process for Chief Executive Officers – and in completion of the interview process – the Public Service Commission has finalise their decision and they are ready to appoint their recommended candidate. 

“However, Cabinet turns around and change the recommended candidate and so it is a total waste of time. May as well just announce the vacancy and the candidates appear before Cabinet and let them decide,” he said during the debate. 

But the Prime Minister also rubbished this claim at the time.  

“This must be corrected as it is wrong. There is a panel of three that conducts the interview and the process is not always perfect and waiting for the decisions are 13 Cabinet Ministers.” 

According to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers have experience in hiring people. 

“Some have been C.E.O.’s themselves while others use to own businesses and they have hiring experiences.” 

Tuilaepa said that 95 per cent of the decisions by the Public Service Commission are honored by the Cabinet. 

“The five per cent are decisions the Cabinet knows is not quite right – and also the 13 Ministers know much more than the three panelists conducting the interview process. 

“Also the proverb we hear, the older you become the wiser you are and all the Cabinet Ministers as you can see are very wise."

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