A position of trust

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Government has just announced that it has appointed 14 Permanent Secretaries. Three of the appointees have already served under the previous administration. The others are new to the post.

Within twenty four hours from Labour’s election to office, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced the appointment of a designate Head of the Civil Service. In line with Lawrence Gonzi’s appointments the said designate Head of the Civil Service was also appointed simultaneously as Principle Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister and Secretary to the Cabinet.

Within hours rumours announced that all Permanent Secretaries had been requested to submit their resignations which, it was stated, were necessary and in line with normal practice in a democratic society.

It  was not however stated that the real issue with the post of Permanent Secretary is that it is a position of trust. All those appointed were so appointed because the previous administration considered that they could be trusted. Knowing some if not most of the appointees I can say that the trust demonstrated by the previous administration in the appointment of its Permanent Secretaries was most probably based on a cocktail of considerations.  Their administrative abilities undoubtedly featured prominently on the list. There were undoubtedly other issues. Given the sensitivity of the posts I have no doubt that political loyalty was given some weight in the appointments made. In some cases more than others.

The posts of Permanent Secretaries are not the only posts which the Gonzi administration considered as positions of trust.  I remember clearly the reports drawn up by former MEPA Audit Officer on the appointment of the Director for Environment Protection at MEPA and MEPA’s  CEO without issuing a call for applications. The MEPA Audit Officer had then argued that there was no need to consider such posts as positions of trust meriting direct appointment. Subjecting them to a public competition through an open call for applications would have been fair and proper.

A number of public corporations and authorities have appointed their senior management, primarily CEOs, through either an open call or else through a direct appointment. In view of the fact that the Public Administration Act has not been brought into force there is no enforceable rule to ensure a clear demarcation line as to which posts in the wider civil service are to be deemed as positions of trust and which not.

It is logical for persons appointed to positions of trust to make way when those who appointed them are no longer in authority. But then in a micro-state as Malta, where each and every one of us is known to one and all, it is in my view essential that the positions in the wider civil service which are deemed to be “positions of trust” are to be the minimum possible number.  It does not make sense to have a large number of such posts.

Unfortunately this matter has never been discussed. What is government’s position on the matter?

It is about time that all the cards are on the table.

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Ras il-Ħuta

Il-Malta Today illum kompliet bl-istorja dwar is-Segretarju Permanenti fiċ-Ċivil inkarigata mill-Verifika Interna tal-Gvern (Internal Audit and Investigations Department).

L-istorja issa ilha għaddejja u mhux aċċettabbli li l-Prim Ministru jwaħhal f’denbu (l-Kap taċ-Ċivil) billi jgħid li dan għandu jinvestiga.

L-allegazzjonijiet li saru u li issa huma iktar dettaljati b’ismijiet u dati jagħtu stampa ċara ta’ sitwazzjoni li min hu inkarigat biex jissorvelja l-operat taċ-Ċivil hu stess hu involut f’attivita’ mhux permissibli.

Dan waħdu hu biżżejjed biex iqajjem diversi mistoqsijiet dwar kif inhu possibli li min jaħdem b’dan il-mod jista’ qatt inissel sens ta’ imġieba etika f’ta’ madwaru. Għax jekk is-Segretarju Permanenti fl-OPM responsabbli mill-Verifika Interna m’għandiex skrupli li tagħmilha ta’ konsulent għas-settur privat (waqt li tibqa’ tokkupa kariga pubblika) kif qatt tista’ tieħu passi effettivi fuq każi ta’ gravita’ simili li minn żmien għal żmien jixħtu dell tqil fuq l-integrita’ tas-settur pubbliku?

B’dan il-każ nistgħu nifhmu iktar għalfejn dwar diversi materji qatt ma jsir xejn.

Meta min suppost jissorvelja m’għandux sens ta’ etika, kif nistgħu qatt nippretendu li ħaddieħor iktar l-isfel fl-istruttura tas-settur pubbliku jagħti każ?

Kif ngħidu:  l-ħuta minn rasha tinten.

Fuq l-istess suġġett ara ukoll fuq dan il-blog : Fuq nett fiċ-Ċivil …….. fejn jaħraq ħafna. 5 ta’ Novembru 2012