JIS News

In keeping with government’s thrust to develop and foster a new customer friendly culture within the civil service, the Ministry of Agriculture this morning (Feb. 6) launched its citizen’s charter to improve service delivery to the public.
Speaking at the event, which was held at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke said the Ministry would first seek to “put its house in order”, by ensuring that inter-staff and inter-agency relations were of an exemplary standard. He noted also that the Ministry would focus on ensuring that its agencies formed a closer bond, as in some instances, the link between agencies was not properly understood.
Mr. Clarke said that over several months, the process of sensitizing and training staff in the “service ethic” was underpinned by in-house training sessions together with a programme administered by the HEART/Trust NTA, at the end of which, participants were assessed and certified. “Thereafter, the development of our service standards was informed by the findings of sample customer service surveys, which were conducted on an unscheduled basis at our service points throughout the island,” the Minister informed.
Now that the sensitization, the initial training programme and the printing of the charter have been completed, he said, “we see the work of meeting the performance standards as just beginning, given that for any change process to be effective, it requires ongoing training and assessment”.
Stating that the Ministry meant business, Mr. Clarke pointed out that immediately following the launch, a workshop would be held for staff. Participants would include directors, middle managers and supervisors, who will develop a plan of action aimed at maintaining the service delivery levels in their respective units, in keeping with the standards outlined in the citizens’ charter.
“Our aim is to develop a culture of excellence in order to better serve our end-users and the public in general and the farmers, our primary constituents,”Mr. Clarke said, adding, “poised against the training, which we regard as an ongoing process, we in the Ministry of Agriculture, have also taken account of the fact that invariably, a person’s output is directly linked to the nature of his or her working environment, in the very broadest sense”.
In addition to improving performance standards, the Ministry has also taken steps to improve its physical facilities and to forge linkages with institutions, which offer programmes from which staff can benefit.The citizens’ charter forms part of the government’s public sector modernization programme, which is being ably spearheaded by the Cabinet office. In formulating the charter, the Human Resource Development Division of the Ministry worked closely with the standards and monitoring unit of the Office of the Prime Minister as well as staff members on a unit-by-unit basis, in order to enlist their participation in the change process.
In 2002, Prime Minister P. J. Patterson, said that the eight year old Citizen’s Charter Programme was raising standards of service in the public sector and delivering real benefits to the citizens. He was speaking at the launch of the citizen’s charters for the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Cabinet Office.
“Since the advent of the programme the public sector has become more open, responsive and accountable to the public whom we exist to serve. The citizens are now more demanding and we have responded by becoming more innovative and customer-focused,” Mr. Patterson noted.