Public Service Day a $17,000 'waste': Committee

The Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee has decried the $17,000 allocated to raising public awareness about the Government's work every Public Service Day as a “waste of time”. 

The budget scrutiny was revealed in the Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee hearing report for the 2018-2019 Financial Year, dedicated to the Public Service Commission's (P.S.C.) $4.83 million budget allocation.

 “The Committee questions the importance of having a Public Service Day for the Government [where] $17,000 is allocated for [a] waste of time when there is work to be done, as service to the Country,” the report said. 

In its official response to the report, the Commission noted they were considering going out into the villages to engage with members of the public to inform them firsthand about the nature of public service. 

However, the Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee did not agree. 

“If that is the case, villages will be burdened,” the report read, in response. 

The P.S.C.'s website provides an outline of the motivations of Public Service Day, which has been held annual since September 14, 2012.

"The Samoa Public Service Day provides an excellent opportunity for all Government Agencies to raise awareness of their contribution to the development of Samoa and make known their role in the achievement of national development goals," the website reads.

A total of $267,147 allocated for the P.S.C.'s Remuneration Tribunal also came in for scrutiny. 

The Tribunal's official response says the funding is used to pay its members' salaries so that they can operate independently from Government. 

But the Committee said it had requested to be provided with an outline of each of the Tribunal's job descriptions. 

The Tribunal was also reminded of the need to inform Government staff of the benefits they accrue upon ten years of service at a Government agency. 

“There are many employees that are unaware of the benefits they receive once they reach 10 years of employment and there should be benefits for staff that reaches this milestone,” says the report. 

Questions were also raised about a $100,000 reduction in the budget allocation for the Commission last year, funding that had been allocated to a public training event that was later put on hold. 

The Committee also made inquiries about the P.S.C.'s function in reviewing Chief Executive positions in the public sector, the nominations for which are sent to Cabinet for its final review and endorsement. 

“The Commission made it clear since the passage of the law where Cabinet makes final decision (2018), there were only three C.E.O. recommendations that were rejected, other than that everything else went well," the report reads. 

Last year a Member of Parliament, Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa, accused the Cabinet of interfering with the Public Service Commission’s recruitment process for Chief Executive Officers. 

But the charge was strongly rejected by the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi. 

The M.P. made the comments before Parliament during debate 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 would come under the umbrella of the Public Service Commission. 

“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," the M.P. said during the debate. 

“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".

The Prime Minister defended the process as working well in conjunction between the P.S.C. and Cabinet.  


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