Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Time we de-politicized public sector appointments – If we are ever to reduce endemic corruption

I was approached by a very pleasant young man of 20 last evening at my home in Ratmale, Minneriya and here is his story as he told me. I have not verified the facts, but if it is true, then there is a serious and urgent need to clean up every aspect of entry into any public sector or State Employment, now numbering in excess of 1.7M of a total workforce of 8.5M.

That is 20% of everyone in this Country gets a paycheck from the Government and they have some form of secure tenure, in that they cannot sacked for incompetence or slacking, and even have pensionable rights, that NON in the private sector enjoy!

“He told me that the Police Force, now numbering 85,000 is recruiting 90 people directly to the SI rank for the first time, and he has followed all the procedures and has the qualifications needed for the position as gazetted.

Apparently 12,000 applied for the job, the numbers were down to 3,000 after the first interview and now down to 1,000 after the second interview. He is in this last 1,000. He tells me that he was informed that unless there is some push from above, it is almost impossible for him to get in, and to try and find someone who will be able to help him be one of the eventual 90 recruited to the Sub Inspector position.”

I told him I have no influence contrary to opinion of people in the village, and I know no senior police officers in order to put in a word for him, to raise his hopes of being selected. I did say that with 45 DIG’s in the Force, if each one recommends two then the 90 are automatically filled, and their say counts higher than anyone else bar the IGP, who in his swansong, would not be foolish enough to damage his credibility and his love for the media limelight in interfering in this recruitment.

I told him all I was able to do was to write a letter on my personal letterhead (In English or Sinhala as a personal recommendation) to the IGP, extolling his virtues as a likely incorruptible police officer, who I believe has the ability, stature and can command the respect of those senior and junior, to rise to the rank of the IGP in 20 years, so he would be the youngest IGP in this Country, if meritocracy was in place so the best person for the job is given the job, IRRESPECTIVE of seniority which should not count in future, if we are to clean up the highly corrupt police force. If he would prefer a lesser recommendation than this glowing one, I said I could do that too, and there was nothing more I could do in that regard.

Do they have to ass lick some ‘johnnie-come-lately’ and to be forever in their debt to get a job to which he should be entitled to on pure ability? Is this the same fate that is meted to every competent person in this Country, who wishes to join Public Service? It is, then no wonder our public service sector is a festering nest of corrupt people who use political and other influence to get in, and then believe it is their God given right to make money any which way they can to supplement their already reasonable wages, and even more fantastic working conditions, or should I say non-working conditions, where they undertake their private work during their paid time in service as there is no one who has the rights, authority to control them and get them to perform the tasks that are needed in a timely manner.

People, the few who enter on their own merit are then beholden to those who come using influence. They are so disheartened from day one, seeing incompetent people being favored, immediately removing any hopes, aspirations they may have had in joining to actually serve the public, which is what public service is supposed to be, in case the reader forgets that.

Surely, the youth are crying out for justice in hiring. They know the system is rigged against them, and the politicians are the worst in manipulating people to be their lackeys in the hope of being put into sinecures to enrich themselves further.


The whole act of recruiting to the public service must be completely without favoritism, where the recruiting process into any of the positions are in the hands of an independent body that cannot be influenced, with people of integrity. (I know the reader will say that there is no one who can be relied upon to make merit appointments as money talks and people will fork out whatever it takes to get what they want! I say no, we have to start somewhere and the existing recruitment process is mired in corruption all the way to the top)

Therefore names cannot be forwarded from the PMs office or the President’s Office either to special consideration, and all are treated on the merits of the application for employment. Why? Unless we immediately bring back a belief that only those who are found competent can  hold posts in the Public Service, we cannot expect the public to believe that things have changed and start believing that they the citizens are treated fairly in this system or attempting to get anything done without a bribe or returning favors for favors given.

There is an excellent article on Public Sector inefficiencies and means to affect efficiencies in the link below, though written over 2 years ago, it still retains the gist of what is needed in reforms.



Anonymous said...

That is why everyone is in search of a godfather to befriend them and give them the job they want. In return the Godfather has them as his lackey till death, forever reminding him who it was who got him the job!!!

Anonymous said...

For this kids sake I hope he is one of the chosen 90. Then he owes no favors to anyone and can hold his head high right through to the end. Wish him well

Anonymous said...

I bet there will be the same number of applicants, (12,000) even if it is published that the starting salary of an SI is half that published.

It just goes to show the foolishness of the people after Govt jobs, or is it foolish as they hope to make millions taking bribes, be they police officers, judges or politicians. SAD

It is time there is a freeze on all public sector pay for the next ten years, and then we will see how it all transpires. that is the only answer to this crisis of overstaffing in the Public Sector and no one to fill the vacancies in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

the government needs to set up systems of accountability for government workers. trust but verify. if you're not keeping up with the KPIs of the department, your pay and tenure should be affected. the system needs to recognize the human frailties individuals in government are vulnerable to and set up systems to counter these. nobody seems to be seriously interested in good governance

Anonymous said...

Direct recruitment of 20 ASP from Graduates temporarily stayed by the supreme court pending further investigations


Jack Point said...

Very depressing. I wrote something on civil administration here http://echelon.lk/home/politicians-or-technocrats/