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Politicization of public service and its impact on productivity

3 June 2015 06:07 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The contents of this article focus mainly on the Politicization of Manpower in the public service and its impact on productivity during the last regime.
The productivity is defined as the ratio of output in terms of ratio of input required in the process of manufacturing a product or producing a service. There is a direct link between inputs and outputs in relation to productivity. Remember production is not productivity. However increase of productivity would result in increase of production. A synonym for productivity is efficiency. Has efficiency in Public Service increased due to increase of its manpower haphazardly ?
The productivity of any organization whether it is in the public sector or private sector should be evaluated in terms of the above proposition.
 

"The input of man power had been made without any work load analysis only by which one can determine the extent of manpower required for any given workload"



What is the output of the public service in terms of its input?
The output of the public service is defined in brief as services to be rendered to the People in Sri Lanka based on policies and policy frame determined by the Government, the magnitude of which is so massive it covers almost all aspects of services and facilitations to be provided by the State for the well-being and progression of the general public of this country.

The degree of satisfaction of the general public in respect of services so rendered is considered as an important yard-stick for evaluating the effectiveness of productivity of public service. Is the General Public satisfied with the service rendered by the public service of this country? Let us examine how it had happened under the previous regime.


What are the inputs provided for making the above output of Public Service? Inputs so provided could be categorized for our convenience as follows :-
(a) Allocation of funds through budgetary provisions
(b)Facilities provided such as office accommodation, communication, IT facilities, etc.
(c) Man power in the form of employees at various levels and status stretching from Office Aide at the bottom level up to the level of Ministerial Secretaries at the top-most level.
(d) Wages, salaries, remunerations and perks plus superannuation in the form of Pension, (E.P.F., E.T.F., Gratuity only in statutory bodies) etc.

Out of the above inputs Man-Power is considered as one of the most significant components required for making any targeted output which may be in the form of product or services both in the public or private sector. In that context it is absolutely necessary to balance the ratio of input of Man-Power in terms of the ratio of output in public service. In other words rationalization of manpower is absolutely necessary for enhancement of its productivity in any organization whether it is in the public or private sector.

Effective functioning of the following mechanisms is absolutely necessary for enhancement of productivity or efficiency of manpower,
(a) An effective scheme of Recruitment
(b) An effective scheme of Performance Evaluation
(c)  An effective scheme of Training
(d) An effective scheme of motivation of employees

Managing Manpower in Public Service has been based on the procedures laid down in Administrative Regulations (AR), Establishment Code (E Code), Service Minutes, Circulars issued by the General Treasury, Ministry of Public Administration, Public Service Commission (PSC) and other relevant authorities from time to time, decisions of the Cabinet of Ministers and Presidential Decrees. The top-most echelon of Public Sector Cadre directly comes under the authority of the President being Head of the Executive. The Constitutional framework of the establishment of the Public Service Commission is also under the direct authority and at the discretion of  the President.

Let us now examine  to what extent the methodology as set out at (a) to (d) above has been addressed in the Public Service under the previous regime.
There are three categories of recruitment to be followed in the Public Service;namely PSC appointments, non-PSC appointments, appointments made by the Cabinet of ministers and appointments by the President in concurrence with and with the approval of the Cabinet.

The Constitution of Sri Lanka provides that the entire Public Service is at the pleasure of the Cabinet of Ministers (Chapter IX Clause 55(1)). It also provides that the President is a member and the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers (Chapter VIII Clause 43(2)). It is a fact that the entire Cabinet of ministers under the previous regime was at the sole discretion and pleasure of H.E. the President. The PSC had become simply an inkpad of H.E. the President due to the fact that the previous regime had abolished the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which had been provided for the Constitution of an independent Public Service Commission.

Accordingly the Rajapaksa Regime has virtually grabbed the entire Public Service unto its pleasure and discretion. It is a well known fact that almost all positions of Head of Ministries, Government Departments, Statutory and Corporations under the Rajapaksa regime were held by the henchmen and the distant and close relatives of the Rajapaksa family, disregarding qualifications experience and suitability required for such positions.

For example it is alleged that the so-called Chief of the Staff  of the Presidential Secretariat had held several posts which is humanly impossible and highly unwarranted from an administrative or human resources management (HRM) point of view. His astrologer had held the post of Director of one of the leading State Banks. His brother-in-law had been appointed as Head of SriLankan Airlines which had incurred losses amounting to billions of rupees for the Treasury. It is alleged that his private driver had been appointed as Director of Transport of the Presidential Secretariat.

From an HRM point of view the procurement of manpower should be based on a proper scheme of recruitment which should be formulated on the findings of work load analysis, manpower planning, job analysis, job specification and a well structured selection procedure of written tests and interviews. The Scheme of Recruitment should also be capable to determine the exact quantity and quality of manpower and skills needed for them to perform any given job effectively. In case of recruitment for the Public Service we have ample evidence to corroborate that the previous regime had grossly disregarded the above principles.
As a result lots of misfits have been recruited to the Public Service demoralizing talented guys who  were badly deprived of their prospects. Lots of Human Rights Cases were there challenging such irregular appointments.

The quantum and the quality of manpower recruited to the Public Service was determined on the basis of political mileage that could be gained instead of the exact ratio of inputs required for the targeted ratio of output. Pumping of massive quantum of manpower approximately 1.5 million to the Public Service under the Rajapaksa Regime has caused an increase in the input of manpower over and above the targeted output.

The input of man power had been made without any work load analysis only by which one can determine the extent of manpower required for any given workload.

Similar to the increase in the number of ministers in the Rajapaksa Cabinet   the manpower in Public Service had increased in a haphazard manner to consolidate its popularity and power in politics.

As a result there is a rapid increase of redundant manpower in the Public Service under the Rajapaksa regime. If you visit any one of the Government departments you may find there are so many cooks who had already spoiled the soup. If you examine the list of duties given to those employees you may observe that almost all of them are overlapping each other.

These redundant lot of employees are in the habit of engaging in organizational politics and country politics as well, as they don’t have a substantial work load to be carried out. Organizational Politics is a terminology in Behavioral Science (Organisational Behaviour) for canvassing to draw sympathy of superiors for the personal benefits of the employees concerned. Country politics means canvassing to draw the backing of ruling politicians for the
same purpose.

It is a well known fact that politicians of the Rajapaksa regime were in the habit of mobilizing this redundant manpower for election campaigns and political purposes. Due to organizational and country politics, Public service had been converted to a service by the politicians for the politicians and of the politicians.
This situation should be arrested and eradicated as early as possible by de-politicization of manpower recruitment and adopting appropriate HRM techniques in respect of recruitment.

Redundant manpower could be detected by conducting workload analysis in each department. Once identified, this redundant manpower can be deployed gradually and systematically in some other sectors that would emerge in future, consequent to the expansion of activities and the role to be played by the Government. However what had happened in reality is contrary to the actual necessity of manpower. Providing employment opportunities for unemployed youths irrespective of actual necessity of manpower exclusively in order to gain political mileage had become the trend of recruitment.


Performance Evaluation Scheme
Performance Evaluation is considered as a very vital component of Productivity enhancement of manpower. Performance Evaluation is an HRM technique by means of which the organizations could determine as to what extent employees perform the jobs assigned to them effectually.

Performance Evaluation methodology could be divided basically into two categories as Individual Evaluation Methodology and Multiple Persons’ Evaluation Methodology. It is not necessary at this stage to describe the above techniques in details. What is relevant here is to analyze the Performance Evaluation Scheme which are being practised at present in the Public Service in Sri Lanka. A perfect Performance Evaluation methodology based on Advance HRM techniques seems least known to the Public Service. Any effective Performance Evaluation Scheme should be complied with following principles:

i)  It must be easy to understand and comprehend by both evaluator and evaluated.
ii) It must be focused on performance instead of person of the employee.
iii) It must be focused on output and performance instead of insignificant activities.
iv) It must be free of shortcomings that may exists with the  evaluators such as Halo Effects which means evaluators tend to assign same rating to each factor being rated, free of perceptual differences,  vagueness of the meaning of evaluative words such as excellent, good, average, etc. What is good for one person is not good for the others.  Evaluation habit of rating all employees within a common range irrespective of performance differences between individual, should be avoided. Evaluators should avoid Recent Behaviour  Bias which means evaluator forgets more about past behaviour than current behaviour of the employee and Personal Biases which means some evaluators prefer physical appearances of certain employees to others irrespective of their performance.
v) It must be free of shortcomings which may exist with the employees such as short of understanding the system, do not feel evaluation is fair, do not care about results of evaluation etc.

These shortcomings should be arrested and eradicated by educating both evaluators and employees over the necessity of an effective evaluation scheme for improvement of productivity of manpower. However what had happened in reality was that the Performance Evaluation has been focused to determine whether employee concerned is a supporter of party politics.


Effective Training Scheme
Training should be based on Training Needs Analysis (TNA). It should also be ensured exact field of training required such as attitudinal change, skill change, behavioral change or overall change, etc. , appropriate resource persons for training, length of training, media of training, mode of training whether it is on-the-job, off-the-job, vestibule (combination of both) modus-operandi of training such as by way of lecturing, seminars, workshops, business games etc. The training scheme should be capable enough to empower the manpower in order to achieve the performance targets set and thereby to ultimately achieve Organizational/Departmental goals.

It is unfortunate that most of the Government Departments do not follow the training methodology above referred to seriously. Identification of trainees had been done on ad-hoc basis of personal favouritism or political patronage instead of training needs indentified through structured Training Need Analysis (TNA) Scheme. Some employees were allowed to follow training courses which had nothing to do with development of their skills or performance relevant to the job. Post evaluation of training had been badly neglected.

Above lapses could be eradicated by implementing a proper methodology of training in place of ineffective system that exists.


Motivation of manpower
This is another vital factor which contributes immensely for enhancement of productivity. Motivation has to be generated from within the employee concerned. It is intrinsic and to be derived from reaction of cognitive factors of the employee concerned against challenges he has confronted. One cannot teach another how to be motivated. Theories  on motivation promulgated by various experts mainly Maslow, Aldefer, Herzberg, McClelland and Macgregor which are categorized under Contents Theories and Theories of Vroom, Skinner, Adams and Locke categorized under Process Theories have defined the concept of motivation as such that employees are motivated in order to satisfy their needs which are being deprived of achieving. Order of priority of needs are varied depending on the status of the employee and the nature of the needs.

It is not necessary at this juncture to elaborate in details all these theories of motivation. It is sufficient to mention that employer can motivate employees by empowering them to achieve organizational goals as well as their personal needs by way of providing adequate package of compensation which means of competitive package of remuneration plus appropriate facilities required for Job-Satisfaction. Their remuneration should be commensurated with their performance. This is called Performance Related Pay or rewarding for performance.

It is observed that most of the employees in Public Sector have become lethargic and not motivated as there is no challenge for them to overcome by satisfying the employer with high performance. Virtually there is no challenge for public servants to overcome other than disclosing their allegiance to the politicians in power.

It is suggested that best practices of Human Resource Management should be adopted and implemented in Public Service in place of current procedure of Public Administration in order to make Public Service more productive and efficient. Systems so adopted should be implemented purely on professional basis and they should be free from political partisan and personal interference whatsoever. It is absolutely necessary that Public Service should be emancipated from politicization. This could be done by enacting laws that could ensure the independence of Public Service in Sri Lanka delinking it from the access of political influence as much as possible. All these shortcomings of public service could be rectified to a considerable extent if independent Public Service Commission is established as set out in 17th Amendment to the Constitution which was repealed by Rajapakse Regime.


 
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  Comments - 1

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  • kumari Wednesday, 03 June 2015 03:44 PM

    more than politicization the public sector,i feel corruption ,habit in taking bribes to do a small job done in this sector is pathetic.I feel for the last 5-10 yrs even may be in the private sector,the culture of commission basis has been developed thereby corrupting the society.This has affected mostly the teenagers


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