Address by Hon Ahmad Sulliman Jeewah, Minister of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms on the occasion of the opening ceremony of The Training Programme in Counter Services/Customer Care in Rodrigues, on Wednesday 02 February 2005 at 8.30 hrs at The Human Resource Centre Malabar, Rodrigues.

Mr. Serge Clair, Chief Commissioner

Mr. Ponnusamy, Senior Chief Executive, of my Ministry

Mr. Pierre Louis Island Chief Executive, Rodrigues Regional Assembly

Prof. P.S. Coupe Director General, University of Technology, Mauritius
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be in your midst this morning for the Launching of this training programme in Counter Services and Customer Care, targetting some 50 Officers who come into direct contact with the general public. I am also very pleased to see that this similar programme which we dispensed to some 324 officers in Mauritius in July to September 2004, is now being extended to officers of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This training programme comes at an opportune time when the buzzwords nowadays such as "Government from the outside in", "Citizens first", "Single window no wrong door" cut across the strong vision of the Government to be more customer-centred and caring.
In order to provide you with a wide cross-sectoral exposure and hands-on experience, we have had recourse to practitioners both from the private sector and the academia, who have willingly accepted to act as resource persons for this programme. I seize this opportunity to thank them all for their continued support.
My Ministry Action-Plan 2004-2005 - "The Route to Excellence" is based on a common vision of improving the quality of life of our citizens and establishes a sense of direction and a mission to achieve a whole set of projects and programmes within a given time frame. Our customer, i.e the citizen is and will remain the focal point of any development we are aiming at. The customer should be perceived as a vital link in the reform process in order to crystallize the vision of the Government in creating a modern and a world class Public Service.
In line with those strategic objectives, a multi-faceted approach is being adopted by my Ministry to spearhead administrative reforms so as to enable the delivery of timely, cost-effective and quality services for both the internal and external customers. Customer orientation has got no end but action will be pursued further to urge Ministries and Departments to finalise their citizen's charters as a written commitment to provide services to agreed standards. My Ministry will continue to sensitize and motivate organizations both in Mauritius and Rodrigues to further consolidate improvement initiatives, in the pursuit of quality and excellence in service delivery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The customer is too often taken for granted. Let us ponder together on the following questions which may well provide some food for thought.
Why are we in business?
Who pays our salaries?
Who are we employed to serve?
Who is the most important person we deal with?
The obvious answer to these questions is the public and customer orientation is the key to our success. We should never feel that the public who is getting in our way is an inconvenience, or messes up our daily plans. It takes only a negative or buck-passing attitude on the team to alienate the public and we cannot afford that. Let me here quote the Great Mahatma Gandhi who had this to say on customer:
"A Customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption to our work. He is the purpose of it.
He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so."
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are living in an era of transformation where we will all have to reckon with a number of revolutionary changes and challenges for the public sector. In the move towards globalisation, the public is becoming more and more knowledgeable about their rights and requirements. As such, the need to revisit our traditional ways of offering public services is inescapable, if we want to ensure the establishment of a more caring public service. There is no doubt that the modernization of Government and indeed the modernization of Rodrigues will be made possible by the intelligent application of technology which will streamline complex operations and simplify repetitive processes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all know that training is concerned with fitting people to the requirements of the job and we are therefore investing massively in training and development programmes. The Human Resource Development Process aims at providing public officers at all levels with the opportunities to upgrade and develop their skills and to better serve the public ultimately.
I seize this opportunity to thank the Director General of the University of Technology, Mauritius, Professor Coupe, the representative from ICAC and the other resource persons and facilitators who have contributed to further strengthen the collaborative efforts between my Ministry and their institutions, and in mounting this programme in Rodrigues.
I shall conclude here in saying that if delivery of superior customer service is more an art than a service, let our motto be:
"Think like the Customer and Act like the Owner".
Ladies and Gentlemen
I now have the pleasure to declare this training programme in Counter Services and Customer Care open.
I thank you for your kind attention.