Monday, April 12, 2010


*** Prime Minister Dean Barrow, leader of a failed government. External observers say he has a self imposed straight jacket of bondage, of political lightweights in his party and his Cabinet, and that his training and experience cannot allow himself to step outside the BOX he finds himself in, to do well by his small nation of Belize. His management philosophy so far has been fair with a 70% report card, He still has two years and we wait to see if he can surmount his own myopic views on parliamentary colonial party politics and put them aside and put the nation of Belize first. To do this, he is going to have to submerge his own ego and reach out to others, outside of his political party. Most doubt that he is so capable?

The following article starts the debate on the failing reign of the UDP political party in power, led by Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Barrow himself admits he is doing his BEST, but obviously as expressed in an earlier article here, his BEST is not good enough. From the content of this article sent to me via the Belize listserves debating forums, I suppose it must be printed somewhere? It is obvious that UDP Party Leader DEAN BARROW needs to use his last two years in office wisely if he wants to go down in history of putting our small nation on the path of self sufficiency. I notice that neither POLAND, or Switzerland has suffered in the recent world recession. So there must be the right answers and methods out there someplace on how to run a nation?
There seems to be some keen and interested minds, both from the CHAMBER of COMMERCE, the PRIVATE SECTOR, this ALAN SLUSHER and perhaps Mr. GODFREY? I would think as a private citizen and voter, I would like the Prime Minister to reach outside of his civil service, his political party and organize a THINK TANK, to recommend ways of fixing our sad excuse for a failed colonial governing system. People express doubts that our Prime Minister has the maturity to step outside of his political box, to put the nation first? I would think he has, but we shall see over the next year? We need to fit the government into a roughly $330 million annual pocket book, which is something our small country can afford.

( see listserve article below, writer unknown )

Outsourcing Government
April 12, 2010

The second most staggering admission from the upper echelons of the Barrow Government
recently has come from the mouth of Mr. Alan Slusher, a former Director of Economics
and Programming at the Caribbean Development Bank.

Slusher, now close advisor to the Minister of Finance, told the Belize Chamber of
Commerce (on two separate occasions) that the public service is too weak and incompetent
to take the country's development agenda forward.

He cited the incapacity of the government to carry out capital III projects which
are partly funded by grants - free money.

This admission is very important. After a long sojourn in the Caribbean, Slusher
is able to fix fresh - and obviously frank - eyeballs upon the mediocre machinery
of government.

No doubt having observed many Caribbean governments in action, he is in a position
to compare our public service to theirs and doesn't like what he sees here.

The admission exposes that awful irony of governance so black and thick it could
be pumped out of the ground like Belizean crude. Seventy cents out of every dollar
of revenue earned by government goes to pay the salaries of public officers who,
we are now told, are incapable of carrying out a development agenda.

Taken individually, there are many talented and hard-working public officers. The
public sector's most acute failing is the lack of motivated and competent managers.
The serial and systemic neglect of the public service delivery system at the hands
of politicians over the years has guaranteed its failing.

The public service system inherited from the British was supposedly structured to
immunize and stabilize the machinery of government from the vagaries of politicians
and incompetent ministers. Whether ministers were miscreants or simply misguided,
government could go on.

If both the Cabinet and the public service are too weak to meaningfully advance
the country, then what is the point of government?

In a mature democracy, such a revelation from a figure as influential as Mr. Slusher
would have exploded like a political bombshell; instead it was a political dud.

The statement goes to the heart of governance because regardless of whether the
PUP or the UDP holds the reins of power, their action plan will remain inert because
of a weak public service.

There are two options open to addressing this fundamental problem. The long-term
option is to rebuild the public service; putting in the necessary investment and

Implementing this option has two challenges. There is no money available for the
required investment in the public service. And even if there were, there is absent
the necessary knowledge and skill to rebuild it. Any such rebuilding would have
to be outsourced, which segues into the second more attractive option.

Public sector outsourcing occurs when a government has a set of its functions or
services previously undertaken in-house, performed by a private sector provider,
presumably more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Ambulance services are currently provided by BERT, a non-government
entity. Its services are of a high quality, its staff trained to international standards
and it provides emergency airlifts within and outside of Belize.

Who would have thought that the management of the Belize central prison at Hattieville
could actually be outsourced to a non-government foundation? By all accounts, the
Kolbe Foundation is operating the prison more efficiently and humanely than before.
Both BERT and Kolbe are able to get assistance from international charities because
they are non-government entities.

The Meteorology Department outsources the delivery of its public service reports
to a communications firm.

The litigation department of the Attorney General's ministry has largely been outsourced
to a private law firm. The PM justifies the higher cost by saying it represents
value for money given the complexity of the cases and the money coming into government
coffers from the cases won.

Fine. But if that's the argument, why aren't public prosecutions outsourced? Wouldn't
it represent good value for money to have public confidence in the criminal justice
system (which currently rests at 0) restored by improving conviction rates?

Clearly, outsourcing certain public services is recognized and used as a tool for
increasing efficiency and results. But it is currently employed in an ad hoc way.

There should be a conscious and focused rationalization of all those government
services that can be outsourced as a deliberate reform policy of government.

First on the list should be the services provided by municipal bodies. The smattering
of sub-standard inconsistent services provided by the Belize City Council could
be done at a fraction of the cost of running City Hall, for example, by Cisco Construction.

The same could be done in the districts. This would eliminate the need for a Ministry
of Local Government while simultaneously liberating us from the bane of having to
listen to the media- happy idiot savant, Philoughby.

There are a number of specialized social services NGOs like the Red Cross, Helpage,
BCVI and BFLA, for example, that are serious, committed and professional. The social
services offered by the Ministry of Human Development should be outsourced to an
NGO administered by a group of these experts.

It should never be the function of the Ministry of Housing to build houses. Housing
loans and grants when these are available should be administered by a state corporation
like the Development Finance Corporation.

Outsourcing the delivery of these and other public services would leave ministries
responsible for policy, regulation and monitoring.

One minister could then realistically be expected to competently manage multiple
portfolios, reducing the number of ministers and staff needed.

The greater the number of chiefs, the greater the number of Indians needed to service
them and the higher the cost to the tax payer. There are 160,000 registered voters
in Belize represented by 31 parliamentarians. The country does not need nor can
it afford 31 parliamentarians.

Decentralization and "more representation" is a question of affordability. What's
the point of having "representation" if nothing comes out of it?

Take the honourable representative for Belize Rural Central. He is not a Cabinet
member, contributes nothing in parliament nor has any hopes of contributing anything
meaningful to his constituency. There are more like him.

Given the choice, people would choose tangible results over empty representation.

Reducing the number of constituencies (especially in Belize City) as well as the
number of ministries and converting more departments of government into statutory
bodies could lead to less waste and greater efficiency in the delivery of public

The most staggering admission: the Commissioner of Police's blithe admission that
a police officer had indeed been going around with a mask in a dangerous role play
of "Cops as Robbers".

We are now told, on the authority of the PM, that there is a ring of these robbers.
Should we bother testing the accuracy of Mr. Slusher's evaluation?

No comments: