Liberian Journal of Democracy
Downsizing or Rightsizing: Implications, Challenges and Impact of Civil Service Reform in Liberia
Dialogue for Democracy Series April 2006, Volume 1
Bi-Monthly Publication of Liberia Democracy Watch (LDW)
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Rightsizing or Downsizing: Implications, Challenges and Impact of Civil Service Reform in Liberia April 2006, Volume 1
TABLE OF CONTENT
Civil Society Perspective
Opposition Political Parties’ Perspective
Pictorial of the Launching Series
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Acknowledgement LDW is essentially grateful to the wonderful members of civil society, political parties, international and local NGOs who turned out in solidarity with the cause of promoting national dialogue. Recognition is hereby made of the efforts and support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington with whose help the idea of this journal was hatched and materialized. LDW, in consideration of their invaluable support, dedicate this volume and the next, to the founders of NED for their vision to promoting democracy worldwide. LDW herewith recognizes NED’s immense contributions to its work. Special mention must be made of the expertise of our excellent panelists: Dr. C. William Allen, Mr. Ezekiel Pajibo and Hon. Christian G. Herbert. To all of you, LDW extend its highest gratitude for the provision of the “stimulant” for the audience to “feed on.” To His Excellency, Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia who, despite the enormity of his daily task, took up time to provide a keynote and officially launch the dialogue series, LDW shouts out its thanks and appreciation. Special mention must be made of the most invigorating Reverend Dr. Laurence Konmla Bropleh, World Council of Churches Representative to the United Nations, who, along with Ambassador Boakai, launched the dialogue series. Again to all friends, LDW is of the conviction that it is in honest dialoguing that a vibrant and responsive democracy can be built. The challenge is ours, the future to protect.
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Forward On April 12, 1980, Liberia was awakened to the news of the first publicly recorded coup d’tat1. This date represents, by far, the most significant day in Liberia’s most recent history, in fact since the founding of the state by freed slaves from America in the 1820s. The day spelt the seeming end of the socio-economic and political dominance of the Americo-Liberian supremacy over indigenous Liberians. Looking back in history, it is clear that there was very little dialoguing taking place between Liberians. With elections after years of war and devastation to life and property, it is incumbent on all Liberians to work in concert to ensure that never again must Liberians delve into the replay of the most recent ugly historical past. Dialogue for Democracy is that conduit, conceived in response to the need to attract Liberians of all persuasions and professional backgrounds to examine policies and programs of government. The intent of this exercise is diverse. Paramount amongst the many objectives include the need to ensure that policy makers are confronted with and made aware of the contradictions in their programs, and ensure the continuing engagement of opposition political and civil society actors in the process of national dialogue. This tripartite arrangement is critical to the overall development of a culture of national deliberations and engagement on issues of significance to the state and its people and which possess the probability of undermining the peace. This maiden edition of “Liberian Journal of Democracy” is published under the theme: “Rightsizing or Downsizing: Implications, Challenges and Impact of Civil Service Reform in Liberia.” With elections and the seating of the government, not more than three(3) months old, Liberians of various influences are concerned about the rather premature pronouncement and implication of the government rightsizing program, while there are others of the mindset that there cannot be a better time than now to undertake the reform process. These two schools instigated tremendous discussions around Liberia, especially on the streets of Monrovia. With excruciating economic conditions coupled with government’s promising but limited ability to service public sector payroll, one wonders whether the basic requirements which should inform the implementation of said program have been met. To you the reader, the following presentations are meant to stimulate your inquisition to join the debate and proffer your own suggestions to national actors and the public on the way forward. For it is in honest dialoguing that Liberia can be built and strengthened. To promote a culture of dialogue and openness, Liberians and nonLiberians alike, must be a part of this very important process of national dialogue meant to reduce national discontent and promote a culture of cooperation in Liberia. Please send LDW your comments on how this journal can better serve you.
George W. Williams Executive Director 1
That of 1871 involving Edwin J. Roye remains shrouded in historical secrecy.
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ABOUT LDW Liberia Democracy Watch (LDW) was established in late 1996 in the build up to the 1997 elections in Liberia. The organization founded by a group of university graduates envisioned a society devoid of socio-political abuses, corruption and the weaning respect for the rule of law. LDW is committed to promoting and fostering good governance through the building of a democratic culture based on the protection of human rights and the rule of law. In LDW’s bid to influence the national political debate, it hosted in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, an International Conference on the theme: “Beyond State Collapse: Causes and Symptoms of Failed States”. This conference brought together academics and politicians from an array of African countries based in the diaspora. LDW is governed by a board of directors that meet twice a year. The Board exercises direct supervision over the activities of the organization. The members of the board are persons of distinct reputation of imminence in Liberia and abroad. Those members of the board residing out side Liberia serve the purpose of coordinating and mobilizing in resources and links in the interest of the LDW. They are regularly in contact with other members of the board who are active part in the decision making process. The Executive Board is headed by the Executive Director who is assisted by the Program Officer, Programme Associates, Finance Officer and a team of Volunteers. LDW is not a mass based organization meaning that membership is selective and controlled. LDW is a member organization of the National Human Rights Center of Liberia (NHRCL) and a cooperating member of Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE), Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Green Advocates, Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD) and Liberia Democracy Watch (LDW) Collaboration. Within the scope of the organization’s mandate, LDW’s role in Liberia democratic renewal and development include: • • •
Governance, Elections and Research Peace Building, Community Outreach and Social Renewal Human Rights Education, Advocacy and Documentation
Contact: George W. Williams Executive Director Liberia Democracy Watch CEDE Building, Ashmun Street Monrovia, Liberia Phone: 231-6-513037 Email: email@example.com www.democracywatch-lr.org
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Keynote Address By His Excellency, Joseph Nyumah Boakai Vice President, Republic of Liberia I bring you warm greetings from our President, Her Excellency Madam Ellen JohnsonSirleaf, who is wishing you well at these discussions. I must say that we are impressed by your efforts in creating an environment in which we can exchange ideas about our emerging democracy and issues of national concern especially as they relate to civil service reform, and the stimulation of socio-economic development. Dialogue for Democracy is a good theme. It enables us to share our opinions on matters that are of national concern. Such exchanges are healthy for a post-conflict environment like ours. Dialogue, whether for democracy or not, should always be an opportunity for us to come to grip with and analyze the thoughts and convictions of others, but never to demonize our opponents or adversaries. Facing our differences is an excellent exercise. It helps to test our convictions, shape our understanding, and at the very least, facing our differences shows us how clever our own ideas may be! Dialogue also explores the basis and potential for connections between communities and is a testament to our convictions and personalities. But how do we talk? How do we dialogue? The Liberian society has many fora for discussions and the exchange of ideas. The ominous presence of the Palava Hut in the center of our village square or town has always been the point of convergence for important discussion and dialogue. In fact our universities have even borrowed from this idea, although in a radical way…as some may say. I can still remember that toward the cool of the evening, the men would gather under their favorite spot and with endless supply of palm wine, came a healthy almost endless debate on all manner of issues. Today in more contemporary times, the taxi, the cafeteria, the cook-shop or the hytaee shops, have become fora for an intellectual discourse. So you see, the concept of debate is nothing new to us. But then, what do we talk about when we dialogue? Are they issues that are crafted to build and strengthen our democracy? Are we engaging each other with the understanding that we may each be entitled to our own opinions? Are we seeking to understand and appreciate that in the end, we are all Liberians with an enormous task to promote and encourage healing? Fora such as this one are important because they help us recognize the glaring gap and contradictions between the ideals we claim to espouse, and the actual ways of the world in which we carry out our works and deeds. They inspire us to bridge this gap, and resolve these contradictions. They help us to stop being so quick to label others, and to label ourselves. Today, politicians, political operatives, academicians, and ordinary citizens alike have gathered here to support and encourage political dialogue. 6 PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.pdffactory.com
Yes, the elections are now over. But if we are to be honest, we must embrace the fact that the differences that faced us in this past, or any other election are not going away simply because the campaigning is over. In a strange way, if we are to make progress, then the truths that sustain us as a people and a country, are somehow best experienced by partaking in the healthy tension differences create. In any free society, finding clarity is often as important as convincing others. Liberians can continue to reap the blessings of the relative peace and freedoms we have. But we need to undergo the fatigue and the work of sustaining them. A healthy political debate demands that we engage one another not in a finger pointing way, but in a capacity building manner. I still remember an interesting encounter during the just ended elections when during a campaign stop, a brother from the opposition and I were engaged in a discussion about mud slinging. The brother, with finger in my face told me, “well, if you people in UP will stop telling all those lies about us, then we too will stop telling the truth about you!” Ralph Stockman, the great Swedish author once said, “the test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority." Political dialogue demands that we respect the views of others even in the face of remarkable difference. Tolerance and empathy do not require approval or agreement— they do require a cordial and positive attempt to understand another's person’s feelings, beliefs and positions. Look, if you call it a dialogue and you are doing all the talking, you are probably boring somebody. To lead others to your side on any issue, you should help them see the road they must travel through their eyes not your own. —Thomas Aquinas, better known as the great persuader said in his book, ‘Political Enemies’ that when you want to convert someone to your view, you go over to where he is standing, take him by the hand (mentally speaking), and guide him. You don't stand across the room and shout at him; you don't call him a dummy; you don't order him to come over to where you are. You start where he is, and work from that position. That's the only way to get him to budge." I could not agree more with the author. Our relationship as politicians, individuals, scholars, partners, citizens, and opponents alike must always be characterized by honesty, professionalism, cordiality, and understanding. Indeed it must be engaging and dynamic. We need to know each other even though we can disagree on issues, but we still share common values as members of the same society. Our diverse experiences, opinions, and ideas can create a strong and cohesive partnership. The sub-theme of this forum also raises the question, “why Right-Size, or Down –Size? In the face of bloated payrolls and over extended employment lists, I would think that the answer was obvious. (And about the right-sizing, please read the story on Jonah). But I am at least happy that you are holding this forum with panelists from government, civil society and opposition political parties as a way to inspire people who are curious, perplexed and filled with an insatiable sense of inquiry, so that they can dialogue for discovery. This forum should enable us to share our deep concerns about the state and straits of civility and civic-mindedness. I want to explore rather briefly, another aspect of constructive engagement that we are discussing here. In every reform debate, there will always be two dimensions: The negotiation dimension and the dialogue dimension. The difference between the two is that in negotiation dimension, all parties set their objectives and try to reach them to the maximum extent. A complimentary approach to negotiation dimension should be an open-ended dialogue where the government and civil society enter interaction with their values rather than pre-set objectives and with openness for new solutions to common challenges. It is in 7 PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.pdffactory.com
this spirit that we commend you for bringing people with diverse orientation to dialogue for the building of a viable and sustainable democracy. Our government stands ready to enter into dialogue with the civil society so as to encourage the needed reforms that will enable, empower and inspire people particularly, those at society’s margins—in order to articulate, explore and further discover their singular philosophies of life, as well as to develop and contribute their unique talents and potentials to the transformation of our society. This gathering is a new step in a process where the government of Liberia would enhance and deepen the dialogue on democracy especially with civil society. I hope that the presentations and discussions at this forum will provide guidance as to how to carry on this process of dialogue. Let me stress here that our civil service reform is intended to create a very effective and efficient civil service that lays emphasis on competence, professional skills, character, and experience which are indispensable to the sustenance of any democracy. I assure that this government is not interested in maintaining a huge workforce simply to provide job for unqualified friends, relatives and other associates. In effect, the government will use the gains to strengthen capacities for greater involvement. Permit me to admonish you to make this event an ongoing national conversation to explore the values and issues that define us as a people. To reclaim democracy, we-the people-need to start talking with each other, NOW, and tomorrow morning, and next week, next month, next year. We need to talk with our neighbors, co-workers, church and community, colleagues, friends and families. We need to talk about what really matters to us, and what joins us together as Liberians. I will like to encourage every Liberian to find the time, the courage and the curiosity to join a national conversation that will help us understand who we are and what unites us as a people. We must be our brothers’ keeper. I am told that when a hawk scoops down from high in the sky and snatches away a chick from a mother hen, as the hawk is flying away, a dialogue takes place between the two. The Hawk asks the chick in its firm claws, “how many chicks does your mother have?” The chick replies, “…me! Me! Then the hawk says, no, you are now mine, I am asking about those left down there! There is always room for dialogue; good or bad. As we launch this national conversation to find solutions to the problems that confront us as a people, we need to consider four basic agreements and principles of dialogue which will help us understand the power and importance of dialogue: 1.
The basic agreements as we launch this dialogue for democracy should be based on the need to listen with curiosity and respect; 2. The need to seek to understand rather than persuade; 3. the need to offer what we can and ask for what we need; and 4. The need to speak honestly, briefly, so that others will also speak and be heard. Our lives and our future depend on our commitment to find solutions to our common problems. By common, I mean problems of Liberia. How our society will develop will depend on our sincere commitment to the process of dialogue. Unless we share our ideas and opinions on matters that affect us as a people, we will not find the way out of the disagreements that have brought us on our knees as a people. In closing, let me remind you that true nobility is that you find some good even in your enemy. A very wicked man died, of whom no one could speak kindness. They could find no 8 PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.pdffactory.com
preacher for the discourse, because there was nothing good to say about him. One lone preacher said “I will preach the funeral discourse.” On the pulpit he said this man lying here was a first class thief, a murderer and a cheat. But to compare him with his brother who is alive he is a saint. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now declare this bi-monthly forum captioned “Dialogue for Democracy” officially launched. I thank you!
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Government’s Perspective on the theme By Dr. C William Allen, PHD Director General, Civil Service Agency, RL Former Minister of Information, National Transitional Government of Liberia Introduction: I wish to extend my thanks to Liberia Democracy Watch for the invitation and for organizing this important forum. Indeed if we are to sustain the peace and develop the infrastructure of democracy in Liberia, Liberians of all shades must rally around initiatives such as this. Again I congratulate you of Liberia Democracy watch. As you all might be aware, Civil Service Reform is the spinal chord or backbone of any public sector reform agenda. That is why it is good that the President of Liberia is the primary visionary and trendsetter of Civil Service Reform in Liberia. The President’s commitment to this process is evident in virtually all public pronouncements she has made in recent months (State of the Nation Address, Inaugural address etc.). This forum is particularly timely because of all the misinformation and disinformation regarding the intent of government’s “Rightsizing” Program. Definitions: •
Rightsizing is the process of Government undertaking critical needs assessment (personnel and structural) and taking a critical look at its functions as a body and mandate to deliver to the Liberian people and then determine the adequate size and quality of the personnel required to effectively and efficiently provide the projected goods and services to the Liberian people. Downsizing, on the other hand, assumes that Government will automatically cut personnel, no matter what the findings are. Let me point out that this is not the case. Some government entities might very well require more personnel than they currently have. As it stands, most public institutions will require fewer personnel then they currently possess.
\ Why Rightsize? After many years of war in Liberia and in consideration of the results of the recent civil service census conducted through the division of Statistics, Ministry of Planning and 10 PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.pdffactory.com
Economic Affairs, the imperative of a rightsizing policy became evermore compelling. The problems facing the Civil Service in Liberia have been well documented. Amongst the many problems uncovered include: •
That government structures and workforce are over-sized and there is lack of clarity in the respective role of some public institutions;
“Ghosts2” names have over-inflated the public payroll. proliferate the payroll of several ministries and agencies;
Many bonafide civil servants are not reflected on the public payroll;
About 50% of those on the payroll do not go to work on a regular basis
Most civil servants work for twelve months a year without an annual leave;
Many civil servants are occupying positions for which they are not trained for, while many others are trained for positions that they do not occupy;
The processes of recruitment, placement and promotion of civil service have become ineffectual. There is an absence of merit in the entire process giving rise to the over-population of the workforce with personnel with very low academic basis;
Civil servants are poorly paid;
Government owes civil servants huge arrears;
These are only few of the problems The Solution: The good news about the Liberian civil service is that the problems it faces can be corrected. Fortunately, Liberia does not have to reinvent the proverbial wheel because we have the experience of other countries to learn from as far as civil service reform is concern. Additionally, the technology is available to help solve many of the problems the civil service in Liberia faces.
The Approach: A piecemeal approach to civil service reform is not the way Liberia wants to go. We must adopt a “Comprehensive Civil Service Reform Plan of Action” with immediate, short-term and medium-term deliverables.
Names reflected on the public payroll representing non active public personnel, this refers to dead public personnel, voluntarily retired public personnel etc.
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The Experience with the Ministry of State: Total number of employees on payroll Total interviewed Total not showing up for interview (potential ghosts) Number pensionable [age tenure]
1,487 1,178 309 107
If the Ministry of State is an example, then, potentially between 20 to 25 percent of those on the government payroll are potentially “Ghosts.” This means that the Liberian taxpayers could be losing about $US 3,000,000 (Three million United States dollars) per year in bogus salary payments to people who do not exist--- Ghosts! This situation cannot be allowed to continue. The solution: • Get rid of the “Ghost” names first; • Pension and honorably retire those who have reached retirement age; • Clean up the pension payroll (5,000+). Once we have done this, then we will have a clearly defined population of precisely who the Civil Servants are. Right now, we just do not know the correct number of people who are legitimately working for the government. What are the options to layoffs? § § § §
Redeployment Retraining Private sector absorption Private business promotions based on (severance and arrears payment)
Law and Order: Government will uphold the Labor Laws. If people should be laid-off, they will be paid-off: § § §
Settlement of All arrears All severance If long-term payments apply (such as pension) they must be paid that, too.
Considering the pervasive public sector inconsistencies occasioned by years of war and the seating of successive regimes and the attending problem to the sector, this Government does not have an option. The GOL has to rightsize the Civil Service. Once that is done, the following measures for improving the sector can be undertaken: § § §
Increase salaries of those who are legitimately employed Improve conditions of service of those who are legitimately employed Reinstitute the merit system in the sector.
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Notes on how to do it: §
The first order of business should be to develop and implement an electronic, Biometric identification system for all civil servants. This system will settle once and for all who works for the government in civil service positions. It will eliminate duplication and ghosts from the payroll and define the precise population for civil servants. Once this statistic is settled, other decisions regarding improving conditions of service for civil servants can then be considered. In the absence of such an identification system, every other reform measure will be flawed.
A State-of-the-art documentation and records system must be established to sustain the credibility of the data derived from the identification exercise mentioned above. Civil Service Agency staff should be trained to manage the system and to ensure the security of the system.
An effective and progressive employee classification and salary scale will be established by a pay policy. Adjustment in the salary structure is the ultimate output of this exercise. The salary structure will be implemented on immediate, short-term, and medium-range intervals.
A pension, retirement and social security plan must also be put in place. Immediate need is to develop a credible list of employees in this category based on (a) Age; (b) Tenure (c) Disability and (d) Others. The cost of this program and sources of funding to pay for this exercise need to be identified.
An effective Leave Policy should be part of any civil service reform agenda. Currently, most civil servants work for months without leave.
There is a need for a credible examination system with tests that can be used for recruitment and promotion in the civil service. The key areas that should be developed include (a) Test validation and development; (b) Exam administration; (c) Exam security.
Capacity building for the Civil Service Agency is a critical component of any civil service reform program. This should include: CSA staff development; provision of equipment; and availability of working materials and consumables. Another component of this is the organizational restructuring of the Civil Service Agency itself. There are studies already done and thus there is a need to draw on these studies. Job descriptions are needed for all CSA positions. Also, operating procedures are needed to clearly lay out how policy is implemented in the civil service.
Civil Servants in Rural Liberia must benefit from any reform agenda. A relationship must be cultivated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and local government officials who work with civil servants in the rural areas. 13
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There must be a clear linkage between CSA employees and the Personnel Directors in the various government ministries and agencies. This can be cultivated through workshops, symposia, and other interactive forums.
Training. The Liberia Institute for Public Administration should take the lead when it comes to training civil servants. The CSA will assist in identifying and coordinating training needs for civil servants.
Code of Conduct—The current work in progress should be completed
Related items Government will have to address the issue of arrears owed by previous governments to civil servants. There is a need to know: Ø How much salary arrears is owed Ø To whom it is owed Ø What are the payment options and possible sources to pay for such a program, i.e. The World Bank, etc. Should there be a need to downsize the civil service, there will be a need to conduct a study to figure how much it would cost, and which donors and/or funding agencies will pay for such a program.
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Civil Society’s Perspective on the theme By Mr. Ezekiel Pajibo, Director, Center for Democratic Empowerment I am sure that no one in this room expects me to be controversial and so I am glad that no one does for I have a fundamental problem with the word reform. According to the definition of reform it is a correction of abuses or malpractices; an improvement of morals or behaviors; it is improving by correcting abuses; or yet it is to give up or cause to give up a bad habit or way of life. Now, please let us be honest with ourselves; can we really reform our civil service? The former Chairman of the Government Reform Commission, Mr. Francis Kaba once described government office as “dens of extortion”. In my view, extortionists should be sent to jail, perhaps there is where they can be reformed. Thus, instead of reform we might want to consider the word transformation, which means to change completely in form or function; to change so as to become better. Now that is what this country needs. Ever walk into a government office and encounter dutiful civil servants? I have not. From the time one enters a government premise to engage in a business transaction, the civil servants simply want to rob you blind. I know this for a fact because I have had several of those encounters. Even at the Executive Mansion, Security personnel easily approach you with “ boss man your people then here o” as if you owe them something. I know that most of you would say that the civil servants we have in this country is not one that is beholden to the established rules of employment as is embodied in the Civil Service statutory instrument. I know that ours is a system of patronage and the “who you know” paradigm and not “what you know”. We hope that the new dawn we are now supposedly encountering will put an end to it or will it? Meanwhile, this point of view needs to be tempered by the times in which we live and the conditions under which we find ourselves. For starters, let us take a close look at what we mean when we say civil service. Essentially civil service is “the administrative service of government, exclusive of the armed forces and the judiciary”. Thus, when we speak of civil service transformation, we are actually speaking of administrative transformation. This includes the structure, management and function of government. The transformation we have in mind is one which seeks to “enhance the efficiency of public service so as to improve the delivery system of the government in meeting the needs of the entire nation.” That Liberia’s civic service needs transformation is without a doubt. However, the transformation process will, out of necessity, be tempered by a number of grotesque factors including the high unemployment rate in the country which is about 85%; the 15 PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.pdffactory.com
fact that more than two thirds of Liberians live on less than US$1.00 per day and a further half of the population live on less than US$0.50 per day. In addition, our economy has all but collapse given that even the traditional means of livelihood i.e. subsistence farming has yet to reach its pre-war productivity level and our manufacturing capacity is a woeful 0.5%. What is more, we do not have any policy framework in place that compels exporters of raw material, specifically latex, to add value to their export. As the debate about lifting sanction on round logs is concluding, we hope our government will insist that we add value on our round logs and not simply export them as raw material. These measures will remove pressure from the government as the single largest employer in the country. Once we can establish several other areas for employment opportunities we will be in a better position to actually speak about civil service transformation with a human face. This does not mean that we should not begin the debate about civil service transformation. Far from that, but what this means is that we need to be acutely sensitive to the post-war conditions we are in and our public policy practices should accommodate these conditions. What does this mean in concrete terms? In the popular mind, civil service reform , though I prefer transformation, is about dismissing civil servants since we all agree that government bureaucracy is bloated and inefficient and that most of those in the employed of government are in those positions on account of patronage. But to do so now would be unwise in my mind, not because it is not a good public policy but because the post war condition militate against such policy option. What we can do instead is the following: 1. Robustly enforce the removal of ghost names from our padded payroll system; 2. Re-deploy some of our civil servants in Monrovia to various parts of the country; 3. Retire those in government who have reached the retirement age and/or have worked for the government for more than 30-40 years; 4. Retrain civil servants who are so obliged in alternative skills so that they can be enabled to seek employment elsewhere; and 5. Provide grants to civil servants who are so inclined so that they would undertake business venture. In my view these measures will serve as soft-landing pad for our civil service transformation agenda. Once this is done then we can now begin, in earnest to debate the transformation agenda, which we believe will also include serious constitutional and/or statutory engineering. This has to be the case because we now have a new political dispensation, the old has died and while the new is yet unborn, it is safely ensconced in the birth canal. Our debate will nurture it and when it arrives it will be obeisant to the age old adage of the civil service as captured by the African Association for Public Administration and Management which goes as follows: • TO NONE WILL WE DENY SERVICE • TO NONE WILL WE DELAY SERVICE AND • TO NONE WILL WE PERVERT SERVICE Now, would that not be a glorious day in Liberia when our civil servants are obliged to this triad of objectives? I think so and I hope you do too. Thank you.
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Opposition Political Parties’ Perspective on the theme By Hon. Christian G. Herbert Member, National Patriotic Party (NPP) Former Minister, Labor and Planning & Economic Affairs Mr. Christian G. Herbert: former Minister of Labor, Economic Planning and a ranking member of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) providing a perspective from Opposition Political Parties. I wish to thank the organizers of the forum for the invitation extended me to participate in discussing this important national issue. Throughout the world, nations are grappling with the problems of huge bureaucracies and large civil service primarily because they are expensive and cumbersome. They have employed diverse methods to downsize or right size but violence and social unrests have ensued in some cases. Since independence, the civil service in Liberia began increasing due primarily to the need of personnel to man the expanding government bureaucracy in Monrovia and the provinces as well as the demand to satisfy political caprices. During President Tubman’s 27-year rule, he employed a considerable number of “PRO” public relations officers, in addition to the civil service he inherited. Additionally, in a bid to bolster his administration, Tubman created employment opportunities in government to absorb loyal indigenous men and women from the rural parts. These measures served to increase the growing number of civil servants in government. When President Tolbert assumed the presidency in 1971, he opted for a reduced civil service through downsizing. Much of the downsizing responsibility was assigned to Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, which he undertook religiously and which affected every sector of government. Incidentally, my father, the late George Sidi Herbert, a professional accountant was a victim of Tipoteh’s downsizing exercise. Most of the pensioners in the late ‘70s were victims of the downsizing policy. Tolbert’s downsizing policy, coupled with a myriad of other reasons, led to his downfall in April 1980. The first significant rise in the civil service occurred under the People’s Redemption Council administration of Master Sergeant Samuel Doe and continued throughout his tenure of office. Large number of loyalists untrained and with no experience in government was absorbed in the civil service replacing, in most cases experienced and technically capable manpower. Due to the wave of human rights violations, those technocrats who were lucky to stay on the job and those who were forcibly removed from their jobs fled the country for safer and greener pastures thereby occasioning the existing brain drain. 17 PDF created with pdfFactory trial version www.pdffactory.com
The Sawyer et al interim governments also contributed to modest increases in the number of civil servants due to the fact that the government was the only major source of employment in light of NPFL’s forces circumvention of Monrovia. Perhaps the highest and most damaging increase in the civil service occurred when the first transitional government was formed with the rotating chairmanship of Taylor, Kromah and Boley representing the warring factions NPFL, ULIMO and Peace Council. Because government ministries and agencies were divided amongst these three factions, they employed hundreds of their loyalists, including combatants to satisfy them and avoid fallout within their ranks and file. Additional number of civil servants was brought into government when the Taylor administration came to power in 1997 and continued throughout his administration until the formation of the NTGL as a result of the Accra Peace Accord in 2003. The NTGL arrangement, which again redistributed ministries and agencies amongst the belligerents- GOL, LURD, and MODEL, further bloated the civil service. It can be safely said that since the ’60s, the civil service of Liberia has been expanded about several times without recourse to the rules and regulations governing recruitment and placement. Moreover, most if not all of the new entrants, were untrained, unskilled and inexperienced. Each of these expansions meant increased allocation of revenue to cater for personnel services. Indisputably, the civil service is too large, cumbersome and wasteful. It is also undeniable that there is a need for a program to reform the civil service. As part of the CPA, a Governance Reform Commission was established to, inter alia, review the current structure of the Liberian government and its agencies with the view of restructuring both the government and the civil service that supports the government. However, while we support a comprehensive civil service reform, the current practice of dismissing government employees under the guise of civil service reform is politically motivated and amounts to witch-hunting. Most civil servants are concerned and afraid that they would lose their jobs based on political rather than technical and professional considerations. This is wrong and is hurting civil servants some of whom are professional and long serving civil servants. A professionally conducted civil service reform must be linked to a restructuring of the government itself in terms of: • Reducing, scraping or merging ministries; • Defining their functions, mission, and then; • Staffing requirements. Staffing requirements should determine the “right size” of a restructured government as well as the category, qualification, experience of civil servants required to man various offices. Only then should a “downsizing” exercise be undertaken. When all the rudiments of a reform exercise are in place, the civil servants particularly and the citizenry generally should be adequately informed of the purposes, objectives, rationale, methodology, etc., of the downsizing exercise. The target needs to be prepared psychologically for changes that would affect their lives in myriad ways. Moreover, in rendering redundant those affected by the downsizing exercise, adequate benefit packages should be provided. In applying relevant laws or regulations, due consideration should be given to the period and the circumstances prevailing.
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Until the prerequisites of a professionally conducted civil service reform are put in place, it is premature to begin removing civil servants from their post based on political reasons. Rash, inhumane, unprofessional and politically motivated redundancies of civil servants may be a source of discontent and social unrest.
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The Dialogue Launching Program in Pictorial:
Panelists share a light moment.
LDW Director making remarks,
Hon. Herbert connecting with the audience.
Dr. Allen responding to an inquiry.
Jefferson Elliott Resounding a point
Amb. Boakai delivering the keynote address.
Pensive members of the audience,
RI, UNMIL, and other special guests,.
CSAL President Elliott and UNMIL’s Isaac Yeah
I. Yeah and M. Joseph listening keenly to speakers
LDW’s Mr. Williams and Hon. Herbert listen keenly
Dr. Bropleh giving special remarks.
Mr. Pajibo emphasizing a point.
IRI’s Xav Hagen sharing the moment with LDW
Amb. Boakai hammering home the imperative of dialogue
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Special guests at the program
Hon. Herbert delivering his points.
Cllr. Lois Bruthus making a point at the program
Mr. Pajibo stressing the untimely execution of the downsizing process.
Mr. Ebenezer Gibson giving his blessings to the endeavor
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