The Caswell Franklyn Column – Destruction of the Public Service Started with Errol Barrow

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

On Wednesday, November 8, 2017 the Nation published a column captioned, “Not a pretty picture” by Dr. Frances Chandler. I generally agreed with much of what she had written. For the most part, she criticised many of the shortcomings of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), justifiably so in my opinion.

I was actually enjoying her contribution until three-quarters was through when she struck a discordant note that reflected popular belief, but did not accord with reality. She stated:

Another problem is that NIS staff are civil servants governed by Civil Service rules and even the positions are Civil Service positions rather than those that fit the Scheme’s requirements. A more appropriate structure is needed.

Apart from that statement being basically without merit, Dr. Chandler should explain what is wrong with Civil Service rules. Also, she should specify which of the Civil Service positions at NIS do not fit into the Scheme’s requirements. I am not nor have I constituted myself as defender of NIS staff. But I could not allow subtlety disparaging remarks about them in particular or the Public Service, generally, to go unanswered.

It is true that most of the posts assigned to NIS are general service posts, which mean that officers occupying those positions could be reassigned to any government department that has similar posts. It is also true that there are posts and job requirements that are uniquely NIS positions. Those functions are done nowhere else in the Public Service or in Barbados for that matter.

Persons appointed to those posts cannot be transferred without their consent. I refer specifically to the twenty-four insurance officers, of varying grades, and seventeen inspectors whose job is to ensure compliance with NIS regulations. And, as a matter of fact, one of the qualifications, specified in the 2016 Public Service (Qualifications) Order is the Executive Diploma in Social Security Management which was offered by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. This clearly demonstrates that there were attempts to create specialists in National Insurance, albeit they being public officers.

Dr. Chandler’s assessment of the NIS staff and Civil Service rules would appear to come from someone who has been misled by anecdotes, rather than from a sound knowledge of the Public Service. Mind you, she is in good company with her mischaracterisation of the Public Service. Out of frustration with the Civil Service bureaucracy, no lesser person than the Rt. Excellent Errol Barrow, then Prime Minister, disparagingly called the service an army of occupation.

That term has since been used, by persons who did not know its meaning, to disparage the Public Service. Mr. Barrow was a military man so when he called the service an army of occupation, he did not mean that there were lots of people being employed. He used the term as a soldier would have understood it. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “army of occupation” as an army sent to control the territory of a conquered enemy. He meant that the Civil Service was in control, and he set about to break that control, however, with devastating consequences.

Prior to Independence, Barbados functioned well as a bureaucracy, where elected officials set policy and the Civil Service implemented the policy directives, in accordance with the established rules, which required too many checks and balances for Barrow’s liking. Rather than spend time to revise the rules to eliminate the excessive red tape, he devised a way to bring the service under the control of politicians.

In 1974 the Constitution was amended to give the Prime Minister the right to be consulted on the appointment of permanent secretaries, heads of department and their deputies. In practice, however, that consultation ended up meaning that the PM would make the decision and the service commissions and Governor-General would rubber stamp the appointment.

That single act has led to the politicisation and destruction of the professional Public Service, where senior public officers now owe their loyalty to the political party that oversaw their appointments. As a result, the senior public officers, who should be managing the Public Service and making professional decisions in the best interest of the Barbados, have been replaced by politicians without the necessary skills to manage the affairs of the country.

It is therefore unfair to blame public officers at NIS or any other department for the mess that the politicians have created.

110 comments

  • And it EQUALLY perplexing to me why a man, with a mind of SIMILAR outstanding potential like Bush Tea, who, as PROVEN by his PROFOUND contributions to many issues, (not the ones written in jest), also “brings a level of up-front, no-nonsense, merit-based expectations that is as absent in Barbados”…………

    ……… who should LIKEWISE realize that, with his talents and assets, he should assist Caswell, Jeff and GP in the national interests, because he ALSO has a “vital and CRITICAL role to play in ANY hope of this shiite place making a turnaround”…………

    ………….. rather than persisting in wasting his time cussing “brass bowls” like Artax.

    Like him or not, the Bushman MUST be given credit and respect when he DESERVES it. His “December 6, 2017 at 9:27 AM #” contribution is off the “top shelf” and is REMINISCENT of vintage Bush Tea, as opposed to the Bush Tea that writes shiite in jest.

    (Perhaps they are as MANY Bush Teas as they are ACs, and depending on which one gets to the computer first………..)

    Hahahahahahaha……
    Wuh loss!!!!

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    We all no Mara is lying..

    “MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT for St John, Mara Thompson, has refuted a report carried in the NATION on November 15 related to her stepping away from contesting the constituency again in the next general election.

    It was on Tuesday, November 14, minutes after the bell had rung signalling the start of the day’s sitting of the House of Assembly, that our reporter Gercine Carter was standing in Parliament Yard when Thompson arrived.

    As she alighted from her vehicle and made her way towards the entrance, Carter approached her and said: “Good morning, Mrs Thompson. Can I ask you a question?”
    She responded: “You want to know if I am running for St John? No, I am not running for St John.”
    Our reporter had not even asked the question before Thompson responded with the terse reply and hurriedly proceeded into the Parliament building.

    “I was therefore surprised to see Mrs Thompson’s reaction to my report, as carried in Barbados Today on December 4, describing my report as ‘nonsense’,” Carter said.
    Thompson was also quoted as saying: “What was put in the paper was definitely wrong.”
    Carter, however, noted that “in more than30 years as a journalist, I have always sought to be meticulous and accurate in my reporting”.

    EDITOR’S NOTE:
    Gercine Carter is a seasoned journalist and one who is very cautious about what she writes. Having questioned her on her return to the office about the facts surrounding Mrs Thompson’s comments, I had no doubt about the factual nature of her report.

    Furthermore, it comes across as more than unusual that there was no denial, no request for a correction and no rejection of what Carter wrote, the day after the article appeared or indeed up to the time of writing this response.
    We stand by her report.
    – ERIC SMITH,
    Editor-in-Chief

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  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    We all KNOW Mara is lying..

    Like

  • @ Artax
    Boss, tek it easy… Bushie is an old man.
    Wukking the whacker is hard work … you think it easy? Why don’t you try it for a week or so…
    …especially wukking with hard grass like nutgrass (Hal)
    and with marigold (stinking missy – ac).

    Yuh mean after a hard day wukking on specimens like these,
    you want Bushie to do more…?

    …when GP up there in Miami watching cricket on TV and mekking mock sport on BU?
    …and when Caswell only got bout 12 workers registered?
    ..and writing shaving cream in the trini paper every Sunday?

    You know that Bushie on a contract with BBE…?
    You want de bushman to serve God AND mammon…?

    Besides, Bushie aint no damn scholar.
    Let de old man enjoy heself on BU nuh!!!

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  • In 1965 Lee Kuan Yew the political leader of Singapore consulted his former LSE colleague Errol Barrow before declaring independence. Mr. Barrow advised him that the “army of occupation” would be a hindrance to development which had to be corrected. Lee Kuan Yew subsequently made the performance of the public sector in Singapore the foundation of the Singapore economic model. Incentives – rewards in the form of high salaries and bonuses for good performance and sanctions for poor performance!
    How did Mr. Barrow fix the problem he identified? That is a part of his legacy! Mr. Barrow tried to create organisations outside of the Bureaucracy which were supposed to function like the private sector. i.e. State owned Enterprises like the BADC and the BMC of which they are now 40! Unfortunately the mistake made was to make them report to a Minister through the Permanent Secretary. The result was that they are still within the bureaucracy and functioning or non performing like all the rest of the civil service and unaccountable to boot!
    For thirty years our Public Sector Reform Unit has tried introducing new systems and procedures with no success. What is needed is what Lee Kuan Yew did. Provide incentives in the form of better pay and bonuses for good performance supported by sanctions for poor performance. If this is implemented our civil servants will be incentivised to transform their performance!

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  • Barrow could not fix the Public Service in the same way as Lee Kuan Yew because he needed an army of mendicants relying on his Democratic Labour Party to keep him in power.

    Sent from my iPad

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  • Caswell is right again.

    The flaw is in the SYSTEM. Politicians NEED to cater to the wishes of the people and can therefore only ‘lead’ by doing polls to find out what the people ‘want’ and then catering to that need…. That is not leadership, it is prostitution.

    ‘REAL REAL’ leaders are therefore not welcome in such a system…. shiite hounds are…
    Good leaders – even when they produce good results – are soon discarded when they fail to cater to the mendicancy of the brass bowls

    Wunna know how many Bajans take the attitude of ‘ I ain’t vex wid Stinkliar, i would do the SAME thing in his place…’???

    Unless we change the SYSTEM…… we are doomed to continued downgrades…to rock bottom.

    The change that is really needed is the institution of “transparent MERITOCRACY” as the national approach to all decision-making. But the brass bowls who would have to make such a decision would be defining themselves out of existence…. so forget THAT!!

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  • The pubic service is responsible for a significant slice of the government’s budget, it stands to simple reason a performance based system should be mandatory to ensure bang for buck. The casual approach to managing productivity in the country continues to be a hindrance to sustaining competitiveness- under both political parties.

    Like

  • @ David
    The pubic service is responsible for a significant slice of the government’s budget, it stands to simple reason a performance based system should be mandatory to ensure bang for buck.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Unlike his disdain for Bushie, Enuff has loads of respect for you…so..
    See if you can get him to at LEAST read your above statement….

    Then explain to him that this is what ISO is…..

    #Enuffistoomuch

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  • “What is needed is what Lee Kuan Yew did. Provide incentives in the form of better pay and bonuses for good performance supported by sanctions for poor performance. If this is implemented our civil servants will be incentivised to transform their performance!”

    Mr Barrow did the opposite. Rather than provide incentives for good work based on merit ; he increased pay based on qualifications and this in turn reduced productivity for all during working hours throughout every department there was a proliferation of public officers some with books under the desk using Government time to study in the hope of meeting this requirement.

    Like

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