The public service system is an outdated bureaucracy and must be reformed with service commissions replaced by human resource departments to make hiring qualified personnel more efficient, Economic Development Board chairman Dr Terrence Farrell said yesterday.
“The system we have today is a colonial institution. We inherited the Public Service Commission and put it in the Constitution. All the bacchanal (in the public service) is as a result of a set of institutions from since before independence and we haven’t changed,” Farrell said at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mt Hope.
Farrell was part of a panel discussing the release of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. Trinidad and Tobago rose 11 spots to 83 out of 137 countries from 94 out of 138 countries last year.
He acknowledged that in order to pass reforms to amend the Constitution will require a special majority in Parliament—something governments often find daunting because it usually requires bipartisanship.
But, he noted, if the government of the day doesn’t take charge, then whoever is next in office will have the same problem.
These public sector reforms are necessary, he said, even if they need constitutional reform.
“They have to be done…We simply can’t continue (as is); service commissions need to be removed from the Constitution and put as HR departments,” he said.
Farrell also called for an end to “career public servants” who are promoted due to longevity rather than applicable experience.
“I should be able to hire someone and give them a contract for five years without a problem if they have the proper qualifications, not just someone who has just come up through the system. Only in Trinidad you have people who started off as HR professionals who have moved up through ministries and attaining (high-level positions) with no subject-matter specialization. That is nonsense.”