Address by Mr K. Ponnusamy, Senior Chief Executive, Ministry of Civil Service Affairs & Administrative Reforms, on the occasion of the Launching of the Excellent Customer Service Award at Le Sirius, Caudan Waterfront (15th July 2004)
Hon Paul Bérenger, Prime Minister
Hon Ahmad Jeewah, Minister of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms
Mr Harry Ganoo, Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service
Mr Areff Salauroo, President of the Mauritian Quality Institute
Heads of Ministries/Departments
Trade Union Leaders
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with immense pleasure that I welcome you to this afternoon ceremony to mark the launching of the Excellent Customer Service Award 2004 in the Public Service, organised for the second year running by the Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms in collaboration with the Mauritian Quality Institute.
We are very privileged and grateful that the Hon Prime Minister has earmarked time for our function. Your presence, Hon. Prime Minister, at the launching ceremony constitutes a strong support for all the efforts being made by the Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms to rise to new heights in the modernisation process of the Public Service, especially with regard to customer care.
More than 20 years ago, a young Public Officer from Mauritius who was on his first visit to Singapore asked his Singaporean counterpart to give him the recipe for the excellent quality of services offered by the Singaporean institutions. The latter replied that all the national campaigns spearheaded by the Government in the different fields e.g. cleanliness, work discipline, quality culture, training, leadership, customer care etc were personally championed and closely monitored by the then Singaporean Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kwan Yu. The active participation of Mr. Lee Kwan Yu in all the campaigns tremendously helped to change the mindset of the Public Officers and the population at large.
Here in Mauritius, the unshaking commitment of the Hon. Prime Minister to the reforms programme in the Public Service is an enormous source of inspiration to all Public Officers. Less than a month back, on the occasion of the Africa Day for the Civil Service and the United Nations Public Service Day celebrated on the 23rd June, the Hon. Prime Minister gave fresh tonic to the Public Officers in his message.
"Mauritius has a strong Public Service. We should work to make it stronger and more effective to meet successfully the challenges of the century. Capacity building is an essential ingredient for the sound and vigorous health of the Public Service".
In the 1980's, the same Public Officer had the unique opportunity to listen to a public lecture given by Mr. Lee Kwan Yu who was on official visit to Mauritius. He was requested to expand on the Singaporean miracle. He marvelled the audience by stating inter alia that the key to success resided in nothing less than hard work. Discipline and hard work should form an integral part of one's culture. He also uttered the famous sentence that achieving excellence is like running a marathon race in which the final line is pushed further each time you near it.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
That Public Officer who is now less young, is addressing you today after having acquired varied experience as the head of different Ministries. In the Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms where I am presently serving, we firmly believe that our Public Service should have the following main characteristics:
(a) It should be apolitical, performing its functions in a professional manner.
(b) Meritocracy should prevail.
(c) The Public Service should practice the highest ethical standards.
(d) It should be responsive to Government in providing timely advice and implementing the Government's policy and programmes
(e) It should focus on achieving results and managing performance.
(f) It should deliver services fairly, impartially and courteously to the population.
You will agree with me that goals just mentioned are well within our reach. As a matter of fact, the targets that we have set in the different chapters of our Action Plan 2004-05, namely, Human Resource Management, Human Resource Development, Quality Initiatives,, Counter Services/Citizens' Charters, Performance Management System, Re-engineering and Restructuring, Legal Framework, Research and Development, E-Government, Occupational Safety and Health, Industrial Relations and Welfare of Public Officers, are all achievable if we show the strongest sense of commitment and dedication in our work both as an honest Public Officer and a responsible citizen.
Our Action Plan 2004-05 will take us hopefully to the desired destination. However, that destination will not be a final one. Like the marathon race I referred to earlier, we shall have to progress further and further on the never-ending journey for excellence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are not the only ones engaged in the process of restructuring and re-engineering. The recent studies undertaken by the Commonwealth on Public Administration Reform reveal that as nations everywhere struggle to modernise and reconfigure their machinery of Government and civil administrations, a number of trends are beginning to emerge:
- Monolithic arrangements for both governments and public administrations are being eschewed for the devolved, and diversified;
- Central planning is rapidly giving way to the development of sectoral strategies;
- There is a greater propensity to seek out and cultivate local and regional partnership;
- There is the growing recognition of the interconnectedness of governments and public service providers;
- The classic public service fixations on process, inputs and outputs are being replaced with a new emphasis on 'citizen-centred' outcomes; and
- Civil services of the future will be learning, knowledge-sharing organisations and key to this will be the dedication to, respect for, and the development and renewal of human resources.
Our Public Service is under scrutiny not only by the Government, the population and the media but also by friendly countries and institutions abroad. You are aware that Mauritius has volunteered to submit itself to the African Peer Review Mechanism. During the assessment by the APRM Team, our entire Public Service will be put to the test and we need to demonstrate that we mean business and observe good governance standards at all times.
As I launch my appeal to all Public Officers, irrespective of their grades to participate in the 2004 Award, I am sure that they will be further encouraged after listening to the addresses of the Hon. Prime Minister, Minister Jeewah, the President of MQI and also the testimonies from last year Award winners. Please join us in our great venture of creating a Quality Culture in all our endeavours and continuously adding new pillars to the magnificent edifice of the Public Service.
I take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms and the Head of the Civil Service for their wise guidance and valuable advice. I equally thank the President of MQI for his precious collaboration.
To conclude, I wish all the participants to this year's Excellent Customer Service Award plenty of success. We shall meet later in the year to celebrate the winners.
I thank you very much for your attention.