Towards a new dynamism
The move by
President Mahinda Rajapaksa to allow a free hand to State
officials to make independent decisions in their service to the
public is indeed commendable. For too long has the public
service remained a sleeping giant inviting the wrath of the
public. This is mostly due to the fact that State officials
stuck to age-old rules and concepts left behind by our colonial
masters. This playing by the book rather than serve the public
to their satisfaction drove them to frustration and despair.
There was also a reluctance on the part of State officials at
the helm in government departments to act on their own
initiative. Most of the State officials who were largely
political appointees feared to take bold decisions lest they
come into conflict with the thinking of their political masters.
As a result the public service became an effete and a dormant
institution with the public receiving slipshod treatment.
It is in this context that the decision taken by the
President assumes significance.
Addressing new recruits to the Administrative Service at
Temple Trees on Wednesday President Rajapaksa said he would
protect and defend them on all decisions taken for the public
benefit. He said officials who take decisions in good faith and
show dedication and commitment in their service to the public
would always be protected and backed by the State.
What is more he told them that even if their decisions failed
to elicit the desired result the State would still back them to
the hilt so long as such decisions had been taken in good faith.
This hopefully would lead to a revolutionary change in the
country's bureaucracy which hitherto was playing a negative
This confidence building on the part of the President in the
bureaucracy is timely given the need for spot decisions in the
present context where development is being accelerated. Our
bureaucracy over the years have come in for a lot of flak and
justifiably so. Our administrative service has been notorious
for its lethargy and foot dragging. This dilly-dallying on the
part of our State officials has its genesis in the reluctance to
take decisions that could displease the powers that be. As
mentioned since these officials owe their positions in most
instances to their political masters they fought shy from taking
decisions that could invite the displeasure of their political
It is such a mindset that has been dominating the actions of
our top administrators over the years. There had been little
initiative or independent thinking on their part. Now with a
free hand given to them by the President no less to take
independent decisions with the cover of protection hopefully a
degree of dynamism and drive would be injected into our
bureaucratic machinery which had been in a slumber for too long.
This Presidential guarantee it is hoped would now motivate
our State officials into action which was noted for its absence.
Most of all the public will like to see them break out of the
bureaucratic red tape which had been used as a convenient cover
by our bureaucrats to delay action. As a result the general
public were driven from pillar to post even for a minor task
such as obtaining the copy of a title deed. Needless to say
their wrath was unfairly directed at the Government due to this
In the past most of our prospective investors too had to
reconsider their options due to the tedious processes adopted by
our bureaucracy. With big time investors now set to arrive in
the country the need for speed cannot be overemphasized. We
cannot afford to lose investors at this juncture merely because
some form or document is not in order. The Presidential
directive will now embolden our bureaucrats to adapt and
improvise to keep the development process moving.
Anyway it is time for a complete overhaul of the country's
moribund bureaucracy to suit modern day demands. Our bureaucracy
is still coasting along a dull routine of the colonial era when
things were tranquil and slow paced. This is the era of modern
technology and the information revolution where speed is of the
essence requiring snap decisions. Prolonging things today
because some bureaucrats are bound to ARs and FRs can only put
the country back in development and progress.
Above all there should be no room for political meddling in
any decision making by State officials. They have now received a
guarantee from no less a personage than the Head of State that
they could act independently so long as their decision-making
impacts to the public benefit.
This assurance we hope would spur them into new heights to do
the right thing according to their conscience without being
bound by any political pressure. Hopefully the President's move
to allow free rein to the country's bureaucracy will hark back
to the days when our public service was free of political
interference and where the people were provided a satisfactory