THERE is a view that regional leaders should consider performance-based pay in the public sector and borrow other principles, where applicable, from the private sector.
So says Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. The Honourable Timothy Harris, as he delivered the annual Prime Minister’s Lecture hosted by the UWI Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (UWISTAT) in the Henry Fraser Lecture Theatre on Thursday night.
When asked by a member of the audience his view on performance-based pay in the region, Prime Minister Harris revealed that in his budget last year, he indicated that this is the direction in which his country must go. He told the audience this will call for a mind-set change not only of constituents but leaders of the region to tackle an inflated public sector.
“I think this is absolutely the only way we can go that makes sense.”
Dr. Harris also suggested that there is an expectation in the public sector that “every year is increment year,” which he says does not always bode well for the economy.
“And it doesn’t matter if there is money, whether there is growth in the economy, it doesn’t matter what happens to the cost of living index, it is tied to nothing more than that is the norm and that is the tradition… a lot of what happens in business we have to take that same mentality into the public sector to the extent those principles are applicable.
“Tax revenues fluctuate depending on the scenarios in which the economy is involved and so to have that pressure on the purse not linked to performance, not linked to productivity will create an insurmountable challenge for fiscal prudence and discipline. And that is why performance pay makes sense.
“Because what you want is to take the best performance and give them their bonuses, give them the incentives. Fast track them to the end of their scale if necessary. And those who are not performing, so shall it be that their pay remains the same. You would find that you would have better savings. But rewarding beyond our very good performance you may well energise others to become more disciplined, to look for more role models.”
Prime Minister Harris opined that one of the real challenges being faced across the region is that the governments are overcrowded.
“And some of it in an effort to answer to short-term political demands of constituents. Everybody almost within our societies tend to believe that part of the reward for exercising your democratic right, is that something personal must be in it for us. That is something that we have to check.”
He suggested that persons ought to be more concerned with governments delivering on their Manifesto as a sacred contract with the people.
“What should be in it for us is to ensure the government delivers on good governance and on the development of our country. Because if our country develops, all of us ultimately would benefit as a result of it.
“So we have to change the mind-set which keeps demanding more as it were from the government, which leads to greater government indebtedness, short-term policies where people are put together just to survive an election and then discarded.
“We have to begin to confront these challenges and speak to reasonable people in the community. To say, ‘These things that have been a part of the past can’t endure and are not sustainable for the future’. The future which we want to create which will make us stronger and better. Sometimes it is difficult for political leadership to say the right thing, which we must be committed to say at sometimes even if it creates short term anxieties,” Dr. Harris stated. (JH)