“We MUST work with the laid down principles, even though we might adopt innovative approaches.”
By: Musa Conteh, Information Officer, Cabinet Secretariat
The Leadership meeting of Permanent Secretaries and Professional Heads of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) held with the Secretary to the President and Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service at the Civil Service Training College, Tower Hill, Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Thursday 1st November, 2018; was described by participants as very interactive and successful, as matters were deliberated equally and accordingly in a democratic, peaceful and respectful manner. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ansu S. Tucker, Director General, Human Resource Management Office (HRMO).
Leadership meetings are held to discuss pertinent issues in the Civil Service. The purpose of leadership meetings among many others is to discuss policy issues and those that require Civil Servants' inputs as implementers of government policies and programmes across MDAs. The discussions at this meeting centered around three issues: Contributions of Civil Servants towards the Free Education Programme, Payroll and General Staff Management in MDAs and Retention of Interns in MDAs.
The Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, Mr. John Sumailah, in his statement said: “We MUST work with the laid down principles, even though we might adopt innovative approaches. It is very good that we work with a good team spirit so that we can be able to always address our problems timely and appropriately. We should comport ourselves particularly when it comes to dealing with the Political Heads in our various MDAs. We should make sure we guide the Political Heads, because as Administrative and Professional Heads, it is our responsibility to give positive advice to them in matters related to our various MDAs.”
Mr. Sumailah admonished the Permanent Secretaries to fully sensitize their staff members about their contributions towards the Free Education Programme and the deduction of their salaries for that purpose. He said the Administrative and Professional Leaders need to put in place a correct Payroll and ensure a proper General Staff Management in the MDAs. “You need to monitor and supervise your junior staff in an appropriate manner. Also, make the Political Heads aware that the Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU) has the mandate to undertake Management and Functional Review in Government MDAs. He cautioned that Civil Servants that requesting for extension of service should do so two to three months before their due date of termination/retirement to avoid break in service and consequent deletion from the Payroll”, he said.
He revealed that action is being taken to review the retirement age and the new extension policy will be out soon. ” One of the main reasons for the current high demand for extension of service is that, the end of service package cannot take you along the pathway of life after retirement. The review is therefore aimed at preparing intending retirees to move into private life with satisfaction and fulfillment of aspiration”, he said.
Mr. Momoh B. Foh, Deputy Secretary to the President, in his contribution said: “The issue of extension of service is a thorn in the flesh.” He encouraged the Leadership of the Civil Service to press forward the proposal regarding the Age increase that is from 60 to 65, as the case maybe. “In some countries in Africa and Europe the retirement age the retirement age varies and ranging from 65, 70 and 75,” he adds. While the Representative from the Ministry of Development and Economic Planning said: “We should look at the age for voluntary retirement as well, if we want to increase the retirement age.”
Mr. Ansu S. Tucker, Director General, Human Resource Management Office – (HRMO) in his opening and welcoming remarks, welcomed and thanked all members present at the meeting. He admonished the Permanent Secretaries and Professional Heads to come together and address issues as they come up. “Let us communicate the issues affecting us and find solutions. MDAs should report lapses in their managerial processes to the HRMO, without any delay and should take responsibility for these lapses. We have collective responsibility in addressing our problems. Steps are going to be taken to address issues such as the Payroll Records System which is based on a default system; cases of unauthorized absence; multiple dates of birth; death; reporting; etc. On the issues of retention of Interns in MDAs, HRMO is in the process to put up together a Policy which will be circulated to all after preparation.”
“Permanent Secretaries and Professional Heads will be held responsible for improper management of MDAs and have to justify / defend their actions. We should do proper monitoring and supervision of your staff. We have to introduce new disciplinary measures / proceedings to tackle unauthorized absence and other related issues. Let us strategize ourselves well so that we can be able to manage our MDAs in an appropriate fashion,” he stressed.
“We have to be transparent and accountable because the public is demanding more from us, Civil Servants. Therefore, we have to be very proactive in informing, educating and communicating the public about government programmes / activities,” he warned.
Mr. Augustine Sheku, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications in his contribution said: “We should look at the relationship between the Central and Local Government activities bearing in mind that some issues need to be carried out at local levels. We should ensure decentralization at all levels for the devolution of functions, activities, staff, budget /finances as well, based on needs.”
The Director of Communications, Ministry of Information and Communications pointed out: “We should review / vet all ICT qualifications and ensure that certificates, diplomas and degrees are obtained from accredited / recognized institutions, to ensure quality service delivery in the Civil Service.”