15 Nov 2005

Fiji opposition says public service now politicised

5:26 pm on 15 November 2005

Fiji's opposition leader has criticised what he has described as the politicisation of the public service beginning with the purging of senior and experienced Indian officers in the wake of the 1987 coups.

Mahendra Chaudhry has told parliament that since then political appointments based on consideration other than merit, have brought disrepute to the service, severely undermining its competency and efficiency.

Mr Chaudhry says out of the 18,500 officers in government service, 63% are indigenous Fijians, 34% are ethnic Indians and 3% come from other groups or are expatriates.

He says out of the 148 officers in the top four levels of the service, 117 are indigenous Fijians, 21 are ethnic Indians and 8 are others.

Mr Chaudhry says racially discriminatory policies in recruitment and promotions are largely responsible for the heavy skills drain from Fiji.

Mr Chaudhry says the public service is now characterised by bad leadership, and a lack of work ethics and discipline, where the problem starts from the top.

He says people who were proven misfits have been reined in as chief executive officers on monumental salaries and perks.

He says the aging misfits well past retirement age who currently occupy senior positions should be immediately replaced by those who can make a difference.

Mr Chaudhry says the public service needs an injection of new blood, young, dynamic, innovative and committed men and women who are chosen for their ability and talents.