This is the underlying reason the Commonwealth Secretariat has brought together Cabinet secretaries from around its member territories for a two-day session to explore the possibilities of modernizing the public sector.
Saint Lucia’s Cabinet Secretary Daryl Montrope, in his welcoming remarks, raised concerns which participants considered over the duration of the meeting.
“How do we ensure meaningful participation of the citizenry in the activities, plans and programmes that governments, ostensibly execute for their benefit,” Montrope asked.
Dr. Collin McDonald from the Commonwealth Secretariat asserted that good governance is predicated on good public administration.
As he spoke with the gathering, McDonald noted the challenging economic environment and encouraged Cabinet secretaries to push past the obstacles for the political and economic success of their respective nation states.
“It is clear therefore that there is a symbiotic relationship between centres of government and the public administration. The aim is that the outcome of this meeting will in some way help to strengthen centers of government and by extension, public service delivery within the region,” McDonald said.
Meanwhile, Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, emphasised the importance of the role of the cabinet secretary as enshrined in the constitution, setting it apart from the rest of the officers within the public service.
As such, the role of cabinet secretary, in his view, is not to be taken lightly. Prime Minister Anthony cited the 2010 Court of Appeal judgement in the Attorney General versus Kenny D. Anthony, popularly known as the Tuxedo Villas Affair, to further underscore that even Cabinet conclusions are not above the law.
“This case establishes that our Cabinets are as accountable for their decisions as other public authorities. Decisions of the Cabinet must not be made for improper purposes. They must not be tainted by bad faith,” he said.
The prime minister called for greater collaboration in the public sector, noting that agencies need to work beyond its mandate. This is where the role of the cabinet secretary becomes pivotal in reforming and modernising the process.
“We live in a world where social media can also propel an issue into the spotlight and which require governments to take immediate action. The use of social media will require the public service and the government to reduce the time it takes for decision-making and action,” he said.
The Commonwealth Caribbean Cabinet Secretaries and Heads of Public Service Consultative Meeting, which was held at Coconut Bay in the southern town of Vieux Fort, concluded on May 9.