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Inniss: Public servants need to be accountable

Plain-speaking Cabinet minister Donville Inniss is demanding greater accountability from public officers when the delivery of service to the Government’s clients, including businesses and the general public, falls below expectations.

Inniss, who holds the portfolios of trade, industry, international business and small business development, said public officers were often not held accountable for their failures and mistakes.

Inniss made his position known yesterday in remarks to the monthly business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

Speaking on the theme of the meeting –– Business Facilitation: Improving Barbados’ Competitiveness, Inniss went as far as to suggest that it was time to discipline those officers who were in breach of professional conduct.


Minister of International Trade, Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss

“There must . . . be a greater level of accountability from my end in the public sector,” he said, adding: “I don’t believe there is enough accountability. Not enough . . . the people are not held accountable for their failures and mistakes too often from my end quite frankly.”

To illustrate an example, he drew a hypothetical case in the government sector which he believed reflected a level of unprofessionalism and inconsistency in applying the rules of engagement with the public.

“So, you go before an officer who has all the power to decide whether your application is processed or fees paid et cetera. That officer must exercise that power in a most judicious and fair manner. Not one where you beat your chest and say ‘well, the buck stops with me, so I will do this whether you like it or not,’” Inniss noted.

He made it clear there must be a level in consistency across-the-board in relation to everyone.

In their dealings with Government, Inniss believed business people and members of the general public deserved nothing less than respect, a high level of professionalism and clarity on matters.

“And where there is failure on my end to act accordingly, that you must be able to feel that you are empowered to escalate it up the chain and some action be taken,” he said. “Quite frankly, the issues that some of you will raise today are sometimes kept at a lower level and the managers sometimes are not aware of them.”

Inniss said he guessed it was because of fear.

“So we must ensure you feel free and are empowered to raise your concerns; but not just to have a listening ear, but for us to get back to you and say ‘ok, we made a mistake. We apologize. Here is how it will be dealt with . . . Or we were right.  My officer was correct in his position and here is why. Or, the officer was totally out of place and here is the disciplinary action that has been taken. And I don’t think there is anything less you can ask for.”

Inniss said he was sensing that government officers do not understand what businesses go through daily.

“There is a failure on my end in the public sector sometimes to understand why or how our failure to respond to you with an application matter within a day or two affects your business. Because, as far as we are concerned, you are just another one to process. And tough luck, I may have other things to do, including taking a day off, sick leave or whatever,” the minister said.

Inniss said public officers must also recognize that the private sector pays their salaries but admitted that appreciation sometimes was lacking.

He also pointed to instances where business owners and the general public were given inconsistent responses by different officers. This, he said, was not fair and must end.

14 Responses to Inniss: Public servants need to be accountable

  1. Ike Turner
    Ike Turner March 26, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    And who will be held accountable for the nis payments that people apply for since early November and aint out yet

  2. Annette Mcclean
    Annette Mcclean March 27, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Pure lip service. All talk no walk!

  3. Augustine R Ferdinand
    Augustine R Ferdinand March 27, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Chat chat chat

  4. Elke Hassell
    Elke Hassell March 27, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Stop the talk, you Ministers are surrounded by your ignorant crew day in day out getting away with murder for years, behaving like they are all Kings of the Land, treating people like dirt, ain’t doing the job they suppose to do and totally ignoring that sign that hangs over those offices regarding “they here to serve us”. It always starts at the top, if you can’t train and employ people willing and qualified to withhold these simply rules than don’t come shouting now. Just remind yourselves, Ministers included, who’s paying your wages – yes the General Public that is now suffering even more cause you all can’t get your acts together and pay us what you owe us. People are just fed up with it all

  5. Gabriel Abed
    Gabriel Abed March 27, 2015 at 2:27 am

    Great message. +1 for Inniss for standing up. I wish the others around him would actually listen to the message … that would be nice.

  6. Damian Hinkson
    Damian Hinkson March 27, 2015 at 2:58 am

    OK but what specific actions have to taken to implement this Mr. Inniss?

  7. PhatKat Kalonji
    PhatKat Kalonji March 27, 2015 at 3:10 am

    O boy….,this is toooooooo ez

  8. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce March 27, 2015 at 3:53 am

    He mean he and his fellow air bags needs to be accountable for the state they got Bim in today.

  9. Monica Walton
    Monica Walton March 27, 2015 at 4:18 am

    Not now every since so too are the government ministers first and foremost it is the public servants who rescue this country from the doldrums time and time through excessive over taxation #justsaying

  10. Monica Walton
    Monica Walton March 27, 2015 at 4:24 am

    Lead by example the electorate has been made to suffer because of many failed policies think long and hard before further disadvantage comes to those faithful workers who sometimes are not paid for months but press on we can only take so much as a society …..take heed

  11. John Nicholls
    John Nicholls March 27, 2015 at 4:24 am

    Agreed but it must start from the top.

  12. Patrick Manning
    Patrick Manning March 27, 2015 at 4:33 am

    Oh boy…

  13. Amarilis Lily
    Amarilis Lily March 27, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Who guarding the guard ?

  14. Asiba March 27, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I agree with the Minister’s comments. Public Servants in all categories and this includes the Minister and his cohorts, who are paid from the Public purse, need to up their game


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