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President Barrow’s Eid Promises: 48 Hours for Civil Servants to Progress Files

Yusef Taylor

Yusef Taylor, commonly known as Flex Dan is an editor and practising journalist based in the Gambia with a keen interest in human rights, the economy and good governance among many others. He continues to break news on the economy, human rights violations and is highly engaged in security sector reforms, constitutional reform and the transition of the Gambia from dictatorship to a democracy, the NewGambia. Yusef has been working with Gainako as a media practitioner from 2015 to date. He has a degree in Civil Engineering with 5 years of Design Consultancy experience.

By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT

Last year, during President Adama Barrow’s Eid speech to Banjul Muslim Elders he promised a raft of reforms for the Civil Service including shorter turnaround times for government files.

During the President’s annual speech his unexpected condemnation of Civil Society Advocate Madi Jobarteh and his plans to “be as bitter as a bitter tomato” grabbed the headlines. It was a surprise to hear the President declare such a message on Eid Day which left many people scratching their heads over President Barrow’s perceived calm nature.

One of the President’s Eid promises was to hire Inspectors that will monitor the start and close times of Civil Servants. Our reporter published a Fact Check which concluded that the President did not keep his promise and “an alternative automated system is in the process of being established”. Here is another Eid promise that the President declared in the same speech.

VAR: President Barrow Promises Inspectors Will Monitor Start and Close Times of Civil Servants

Claim: Speaking in Wollof on 2nd May 2022 President Adama Barrow told Banjul Muslim Elders: “We’re giving Civil Servants 48 hours to progress their files. Any file that comes to my office is progressed within 24 hours. I see no reason why files have to spend a month in your office. The files must be progressed. I will have a team that will be chasing people”. Watch the video in the link below.

This FactCheck highlights some of the President’s concerns around the impact of social activities and the Government’s plans to cut down the turnaround time of government files. More details included in this publication shed light on the government’s plans to institute performance criteria and annual reviews.

Social Activities: Speaking on Civil Servants skipping work for personal reasons, President Barrow lamented that “social activities must be reduced. My younger sibling has a naming ceremony and you skip work. My sister is getting married today and you skip work. Social activities have to be reduced we have to make work our priority and if we don’t work, we won’t progress. If we don’t work, we will continue complaining at the corners and the junctions but nothing will change”.

FactCheck: The Ministry of Public Service, Administrative Reforms and Policy was established in the same month of May 2022 when President Barrow constituted a new Ministry. According to the Deputy Permanent Secretary (DPS) of the new Ministry, Mrs Lala Jaiteh Ceesay the Personnel Management Office, the National Records Office and the Department of Strategic Planning under the President’s office have all been reallocated to the new Ministry.

DPS Jaiteh Ceesay spoke about the Government’s plans to monitor and enforce quicker turnaround times of government files, this is what she had to say: “With regards to absenteeism, we have the National Records Service Office working on a file censor system. You know that the government, we will bring files to staff to work on. So right now, we’re looking at how long files last on people’s desks because you cannot be allocated work and you just leave it there. You go to the market; you go to your Ngenteh’s (naming ceremonies) and funerals. So, all of that is on the pipeline”.

Verdict: According to the DPS of the Ministry of Public Service, the Government is currently monitoring “how long files last on people’s desks”. However, not much has been said about the government’s plans to enforce a 48-hour turnaround for files assigned to Civil Servants to work on.

Gambia Government has started monitoring file turnaround but has not yet commenced enforcing a 48-hours turnaround for government files. Promise not kept so far.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service Mrs Lala Jaiteh Ceesay

Performance-Based Management System for Civil Servants?

One of the government’s plans is to institute a performance-based system for Civil Servants. DPS Jaiteh Ceesay deliberated on the government’s determination to ensure that “this new Ministry it’s not going to be business as usual”. Speaking at the launch of the 2023 Citizens’ Budget DPS Jaiteh Ceesay confirmed that “in terms of the performance our aim is to have a performance-based management system. We are completely redefining the role and our focus is mainly on delivering integrated service delivery systems that have value for money, keeping the Citizens’ needs at every core decision”.

The Public Service DPS revealed that “right now, we have the PAM project which is supported by the World Bank, it’s at its initial stage and it has to do with the Gambia Public Administration Modernisation project for Citizen centric service delivery. Under this project we’re looking at strengthening the Human Resource Management Policies, we’re looking at digitalization of Human Resource Management processes, Transparency and Citizen engagement for improved monitoring service delivery performance. Under that you have the Open Government Partnership, the plans are still on the way.”

Explaining some of the work which has already been done to shift towards a performance-based system the DPS recalled that “most of the Civil Servants, myself included from DPS, Directors up, I think, we went through training with the Commonwealth and those plans are still on the way and we’ll have a contract system whereby the Ministries will have contracts with Permanent Secretaries, the DPS and also covering all the SOE’s so everything will be based on performance and we’ll have a contract and we’ll have an Appraisal System”.

Highlighting the limitation of the current system the Ministry of Public Service’s DPS explained that “PMO has an Appraisal System but it’s just for when you’re moving from Cadet to the next grade. When you’re assessed in order to be confirmed. So right now, we’re working on that Appraisal System so that everybody will be appraised. So that promotion will be determined by competency and not longevity or anything like that”.

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