Columns

'Rose-manticism and reshuffling'

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, February 15, 2019

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My darling, my sugar plum… I hope your Valentine's Day was lots of fun.

By the time this is published, people will be happily — or not so happily — recovering from the big lovers' day. I'm not sure if we Jamaicans are truly in love with the idea of celebrating that special someone on February 14, or if it's just a chance to get in on the excitement of buying and selling lovey-dovey things.

A tour of the town centres in Kingston (and I'm sure it was the same in other places across the island) earlier this week saw every available space, where people gather, covered in all things “rose-mantic”. Tables of merchandise crowded the sidewalks and bus stops. They were laden with brightly wrapped gift baskets trying to entice passers-by. Teddy bears seemed to be a prized item. Big and small, they sat, some packaged in a sea of cellophane paper and ribbons sharing space with sweet wine and chocolates waiting to be grabbed up by lovers.

Red and white outfits were ready for a special outing. Then there were the minuscule bits of lace and trimmings, aka lingerie, dangling from hangers clinging to posts or tree limbs. It seems the Ministry of Health's warning to minimise getting Dengue by keeping covered up was not a consideration at all. Lovers and mosquitoes rejoice for personal 'real estate' would surely be on show!

Question of the day: Is Valentine's Day a chance to share special time with a loved one, or is it all about what you get or what you bought?

Word to the wise: It's the thought that counts. An icy mint given in the spirit of true-true love, respect, and friendship means more than a four-course dinner at a high-priced restaurant arranged solely for a chance to boast off on social media.

Government movements

On Wednesday afternoon, word came that movements were occurring in the Cabinet as the Government tries to regain its stride even as the 'Petrojam Preckeh' continues. Member of Parliament and minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Fayval Williams will take up the hot seat as the new minister of science, energy and technology.

A shuffle of permanent secretaries has also been done, presumably with hopes of tighter reins being applied.

New interest is also being placed in two other ministries — Minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green goes to Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Alando Terrelonge moves from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport is now at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. We shall wait and see if the switch-up brings the results that some have been asking for.

The current cass-cass over the hiring and separation of the Petrojam human resources manager is like a tangled-up piece of string in which the more you pull one side of the knot, the tighter another knot gets. Details of the now infamous severance package were tabled in Parliament this week for more discussion, and the Public Accounts Committee continues the effort to loosen the entanglement at Petrojam.

While talking with a friend who has spent some time in the public sector, he asked: “What does this mean for the civil service?” His concern was that, “Right now it can't be easy for the civil servants who are trying to do the business of the country in the right and proper way.”

For years we have talked about public sector transformation in hopes of improving the civil service. From as far back as the 1990s, committees and commissions have been convened to look at how to move the public sector forward. Programmes like the Civil Servant of the Year and the Public Sector Customer Service Competition were developed to help improve the public's view of doing business with government departments and agencies.

There have been some improvements in recent years, but there is no denying that there is still a lot to be done. Take the hint: Let's not waste time and precious resources. It is more than time that we got going.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com.


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