The secretary general and head of the civil service, Mr Habib Drammeh, on Wednesday stressed that civil servants are accountable to the people and have a responsibility to deliver.
SG Drammeh made the remarks while on a surprise visit to government ministries at the Quadrangle in Banjul. Accompanied by senior officials at the office of the President, the secretary general symbolically took off the tour at ministries that fall under the strategic priority areas of the president, as per the National Development Plan. His first stop was at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, where he was received by the Minister, Claudiana Cole and senior officials of the ministry.
During a meeting with the minister and other officials, the SG highlighted that the unannounced visit is motivated by the desire to see first-hand the state of affairs at the ministries. He said education is one of the key ministries given priority by the president, as stipulated in the National Development Plan, in addition to the energy and infrastructure, agriculture, health, youth empowerment and tourism sectors.
“Our challenge is to ensure Government delivers on its mandate particularly the office of the President. Each ministry must have a work programme and we are insisting on this because, at the end of the day, we want to monitor progress,” he observed.
SG Drammeh was quick to add that the monitoring of performance will determine promotion and salary increment without posing a fiscal challenge on the country. He said by the time the civil service reform kicks start, every civil servant would have a set of indicators which your performance and output will be measured against.
While giving a run-down of the ministry’s progress, Minister Cole highlighted that the ministry is striving through various means, to increase access, quality and relevance in education. Already, she said, teachers are being given scholarships to study at the University of The Gambia, while the provincial allowance has been increased from 17 to 20-23% in September this year.
She further stated that more than 500 classrooms have been built, lower basics expanded to basic cycle, and basic cycle to senior school, and from indicators, there is parity between boys and girls, and retention has also greatly improved. She, however, decried financial challenge as a major constraint for the ministry.
In terms of performance and output, Permanent Secretary MoBSE, Muhammed Jallow, stated that the introduction of national languages at the early education is already showing positive signs, and progressive math and English is also introduced. The SG in conclusion at MoBSE urged them to open up and coordinate with Office of the President while announcing that a delivering forum will be set up to allow ministries to bring out constraints for timely interventions.
SG Drammeh and entourage made a brief stop at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, where he toured the offices and expressed disappointment at the virtually empty offices during working hours. The Minister was reported to have been on official engagements outside of the office.
“We want all civil servants to know we are watching and we will dialogue but at the end of the day, every civil servant must have a plan, every cadre will have a job description that will have clear terms of reference and performance indicators so that at the end of the day, we will have a meritocracy instead of who you know.”
He concluded that civil servants must do their best to be at their desk at 8am. “There are plans to roll out a system that will monitor the punctuality of every servant; thus it is the responsibility of permanent secretaries to hold their staff to account, SG Drammeh emphasised.”