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President of the Graduate School of Leadership and Professional Development in Namibia, Professor Earle Taylor, has emphasised the important and strategic role of the public sector, in underpinning advances in any economy.
He contends that in order to “get the economy going,” emphasis must be placed on positioning the public sector, moreso than the private sector, to drive this process.
Addressing the Management Institute for National Development’s (MIND) Friday Policy Forum, at the entity’s Old Hope Road campus, in Kingston, on February 20, Professor Taylor, a Jamaican, noted that many countries err by placing significant emphasis on providing the private sector with the framework and resources to facilitate their advancement, while the public sector remains in “dire need of management, development, and training.”
“The private sector always tries to be one step ahead of the public sector, and then they (private sector) compare themselves with the public sector and say they are more efficient. This type of efficiency is, fundamentally,.a bottom line. But, the other part of the story is that, if you have a lousy public sector , then you end up with a lousy private sector, even if they are one step ahead,” he said.
The Professor argued that, in advancing the economy, if the public sector is strengthened and positioned to impact this thrust, then the private sector will be “forced” to maintain pace accordingly.
He pointed out that public sector “efficiency criteria” are primarily similar to the private sector, with the only difference being viability as against profitability.
“The public sector needs to be viable. You convert goods and services just like the private sector, but your measure for that is not returns on investments, but its impact. So, if your public sector is not delivering impact, then your return is not good. How your services are changing people’s value, affordability, and satisfaction… that’s your return on investment in the public service,” he stressed.
Professor Taylor pointed out that, in so doing, the country ends up with a better economy, resulting from leadership in action. “By moving the public service to a higher level, you automatically move the economy to a higher level,” he argued.