Samoa
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“Public Servants Can Make or Break a Nation” says Deputy Prime Minister

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 05 OCTOBER 2022: Being a public servant is a noble calling, they can make a country a better place and it is a resource that Government relies on, but also a resource that can break or make a nation.

This is according to the Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio who delivered the keynote address at the celebration of the Public Service Day last Friday which started with a parade of various Government Ministries and Corporations on the theme “Spirit of Service.” 

“You are a resource, people’s resource that can break or make a nation, and our Government relies on your values and spirit of service for a prosperous Samoa,” said Tuala.

He reminded the gathering of the speech he delivered at the completion of the Chief Executive Officers Program delivered by the University of New South Wales last year where he spoke about the meaning of the true spirit of service.

“This was during the time of immense changes and with a new Government, which triggered number of challenges from all facets of our society,” he said.

Tuala did not reference any specific challenges, but one of the challenges pertaining to the public service was a message initiated by the former HRPP Government, that the public servants especially the top level would be replaced when the new Government took office.

As a result there was a lack of immediate co-operation between the new Government and the public service and also saw the re-emergence of the Public Service Association (PSA) that had been dormant for almost 40 years.

Tuala pointed out that the spirit of service is the one that puts the needs of the country and agency clients before theirs.

“It is about selfless giving, ensuring that they are not in the public service for personal gains or benefits, but because they have the skill and knowledge to contribute to the betterment of Samoa and her people,” said Tuala.

“Our people need to trust us to act, and decide capably and competently, always in the public interest,” he said.

psc commission
psc commission

Those serving through the Public Service Commission.

Tuala referred to the intention of the Government’s guiding document now implemented as the pathway for the development of Samoa, and where Government and the public service must work towards earning the trust of the people.

“People need to trust the public servants because in your position of authority, you are making important decisions that affect many lives,” said Tuala.

The public administration sector plan is the Government’s commitment to delivering better quality services and having a skilled workforce and better policies in place.

He said to achieve that high standard, they must commit to the principles of transparency and continuous improvement and just as the private sector expected dividends, our country expect us to provide cost effective quality services.

psc customs
psc customs

Pubic servants working in the Ministry of Customs and Revenue.

“But we cannot achieve all these aspirations without your service and commitment and as employees, you the public service is the key and backbone to every Government and together you and I, can make a difference in the improvement of services that we render appropriately and with confidence,” he said.

Serve with the spirit of willingness
Currently there are 10,000 public servants.

“Although it is not the most extravagant profitable line of work, it is nonetheless one of the most important undertakings, but more so, it is the spirit and willingness to serve that makes it so,” said Tuala.

Therefore I say congratulations as we celebrate you, the

  • Teachers who teach our children,
  • Officers keeping our country safe by endorsing our laws,
  • Workers fixing and maintaining our roads and power lines,
  • Agents leading the fight against climate change and protecting our environment,
  • Health workers treating and caring for sick people,
  • Lawyers fighting for justice and advocate for the vulnerable,
  • IT’s keeping us connected,
  • Professionals protecting our borders,
  • Cleaners and support staff working behind the scene and
  • All of you undertaking various tasks and duties for Samoa.

“All too often your chores are taken for granted by those who do not recognise the value of your service, and your services are acknowledged today.”

psc health
psc health

Public servants working in the Ministry of Health.

Facing uncertainty & adversary during COVID-19
Tuala said the country faced the most challenging test especially the public servants when COVID-19 hit.

He pointed out the uncertainty and unpredictability which are probably two of the worst threats any public administration could encounter.

“But as public servants, you delivered in the face of adversity with very limited resources with unprecedented highs and lows. You came together as one from across all sectors in a coordinated manner to serve our country even in the most challenging circumstances,” said Tuala

On behalf of the Government, he acknowledged the Chief Executive Officers, the Assistant Chief Executive Officers, Principal’s, senior staff and all those in the administration level for standing together.

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that the public servants of tomorrow need to be agile and adaptable,” he said.

The Public Servants Day celebration falls in well with the year-long celebration of Samoa’s 60th independence anniversary, and it is a journey that took Samoa from a least developed country to a developing country and the public servants played an important role in this journey. Tuala also acknowledged the past and retired public servants who paved the way for the public service of today and tomorrow.

“You were the system’s stewards that worked with the Government of the day and with the people of Samoa to get us to where we are today,” he said.