“Public Service Commission Politicized” Says Port Vila MP

THIS WEEK MP WILLIE JIMMY singled out the dominance of a political party’s influence over the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Port Vila MP said in parliament that the PSC is under political influence, it is dominated by the Vanua’ku Pati (VP).

“How many different political parties are members of the PSC? VP dominates this department, so to speak frankly, there is no need to beat around the bush,” MP Willie Jimmy said during the parliament’s debate on recruiting a foreign police commissioner.

He said the politicizing of policy services begins in the PSC, therefore this issue must be addressed before looking at the issue of the Police Force and the Commissioner.

“I want to ask the prime minister, please once this law is passed, let us look into the head of all public offices”, the office that “is responsible for the recruitment” of all the public servants.

Political influence into public offices is not something new. Different departments, units and public offices have experienced external influences. Take the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission for example, in 2014 the VCC came out publicly to condemn political interventions by certain politicians with regards to the granting of citizenship’s to their fellow foreign nationals.

Later during the year more than 20 individuals had their Vanuatu citizenship’s stripped for unlawful reasons.

Logically, there is a line drawn to separate the political field from the public service, a wall that stands in between for very good reasons.

According to Transparency International Vanuatu’s (TIV) National Integrity System (NIS) report, public procurement is not transparent and there are significant loopholes in the laws. As a result public procurement processes are open to abuse.

The report states that there is widespread political interference in the public service appointment, suspension and termination process of public servants.

According to a street survey conducted in 2014 by NIS researchers, 86% thought that there was interference and 85% thought that nepotism was a problem. Moreover, there was little confidence that appointments were being done on merit.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister in response to the MP’s comments in the parliament said the issue will be considered and addressed in the next parliament session.

“I want to thank the Port Vila MP for the valid comments that he raised. I am considering the points stated, particularly the public service commission membership which needs changes that will remove political interference in posts,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister assured the parliamentarians that he “will consult lawyers to look into this matter and change the membership of the public service commission” and they (parliamentarians) will probably need to go through it in the next parliament session.

TIV understands that there are currently five members of the Public Service Commission including the Chairman.

The Vanuatu constitution states that the Public Service Commission shall be composed of five members appointed for 3 years by the President of the Republic after consultation with the Prime Minister.

The President of the Republic shall appoint every year, from among the members of the Commission, a chairman who shall be responsible for organizing its proceedings.

The Prime Minister, Hon. Joe Natuman, is a member of the dominating Vanua ‘Ku Party.

A lot has happened since the terrifying night of March 13, Saturday next week will be 3 months since TC Pam. But again, the airwaves are transmitting alleged reports of another motion of no confidence.

Also in the news this week is the arrest of Vanuatu’s special envoy, Mr. Kevin Lai, who is being investigated for operating an alleged pyramid scheme, click here to read more.

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