A Charter for the public services of the Caribbean was endorsed at a Ministerial Symposium that took place at the Jolly Beach Hotel in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Charter identifies components of a professional and effective public service. It establishes a general framework of guiding principles, policies and management mechanisms reflecting a common commitment of the Public Services of the Caribbean Region.

It is intended to serve as a catalyst for the reform, modernisation and transformation of national public sector entities within the context of each country’s realities and priorities. Consultations took place in CARICAD member states ahead of the Symposium to allow citizens to discuss the Charter and provide feedback.

L-R: Mr. Devon L. Rowe, Executive Director of CARICAD; Hon. Samantha Marshall, Minister of the Public Service, Antigua and Barbuda and His Excellency Wrigley George, Ambassador to the International Labour Organization, Antigua and Barbuda

The Charter, developed by CARICAD, in practice, consists of two documents: (1) A non-binding Inter-Governmental Agreement and (2) An Implementation Guide containing practical suggestions for Public Sector Transformation programmes. Specifically, the Charter seeks to:

• Establish a common ethical basis for the delivery of public services
• Ensure that the public services of the region are effective, efficient, responsive, adaptive and service-oriented
• Provide a basis for the delivery of quality and innovative service that meets the needs of our societies
• Foster collaboration of subscribing states in modernising administration and strengthening institutional capacity for improved public services and
• Encourage the harmonisation of policies and procedures related to Public Service Administration among member states with the aim of promoting regional integration

CARICAD from as early as 1980 made attempts to promote a regional approach to Public Sector Transformation. Those efforts have now culminated in a formal inter-governmental agreement; the Charter. It is hoped that the Charter will ultimately be endorsed by the CARICOM Heads of Government. Implementation of the Charter will see all CARICAD member states striving to maintain a citizen-oriented public service which is more responsive; with standards of service to the public that are at a higher level.

There will be greater use of technology, there will also be a stronger focus on results, and more efficient operations in general, based on modernized legislation and institutional cultures reliant on transformational leadership and competency at all levels of the service.

The effort to have the Charter endorsed by the Heads of Government of CARICOM is an exercise that has seen steady progress during the last eighteen (18) months; from the initial presentation of the concept of a Charter to the current stage in which it has been endorsed by Ministers with responsibility of the public service.

The Symposium was a two-day forum for Ministers with responsibility for the Public Service. It was attended by representatives from thirteen (13) of CARICAD’s seventeen (17) member states. Participants also included public sector officials, academics and experts from the private sector and multilateral agencies.

The topics discussed included: Governance and Citizen Engagement, Public Private Sector Policy Dialogue on Service Delivery and Public Policy for Enhancing Productivity and Human Capital.

There was a Caucus for the Ministers and Deputy Governors of the non-independent territories.

The Caucus allowed for an exchange of views on Public Sector Transformation strategies and the role of CARICAD in implementing the principles of the Charter. The Ministers and Deputy Governors reiterated their support for the Charter and also called for more frequent, structured engagement of Ministers with responsibility for the Public Service as they seek common solutions to the challenges of Public Sector Transformation.

The effort to produce the Charter is one of the primary outputs of a project entitled Support to South-South Cooperation: The Caribbean Centre for Development Administration – Latin American Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD – CLAD) Partnership; Building Bridges of Solidarity and Cooperation.

In that regard, resources were allocated under the CARICOM/Spain Joint Technical Fund for the project identified as a modality for South to South cooperation. The CARICOM/Spain Joint Fund approved the sum of two hundred and ten thousand United Sates dollars (US $ 210, 000) for the project.

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