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‘Rescue me, then blame me!’

Mar 20,2021 - Last updated at Mar 20,2021

There is a parable which we read in our school days about a person who was drowning, and another who was reproaching him for swimming in such dangerous waters, which ends with the drowning person shouting, “Rescue me, then blame me!”

This is the story of our relationship with the public sector in the country.

In the 50s, 60s, and 70s of the past century, the public sector was exemplary in its efficiency, disciplined performance and effectiveness.

As of the 1980s, however, its performance started to slacken, regress and deteriorate till it has become what it is now.

Several factors stand behind this deterioration.

The first, and most important perhaps, is brain drain from the sector, as a result of the more competitive public-sector employees seeking more rewarding job opportunities in the private sector and in neighbouring countries.

The second is shortage of funds necessary for developing the sector’s efficiency; the third is hiring less competitive and less qualified employees without any plans of empowerment; the fourth is inefficient administration.

Among them also are the absence of competitive spirit and a sense of accountability.

We should remind, however, that several institutions within the public sector are marked by efficient performance, swift procedures and elegance.

It is crucial to mention this so that one does not give the impression that the picture is so grim and the sector is hopeless.

And this is the pivotal point here.

What have we done by way of addressing the sector’s problems and the impediments standing in the way of its development, preventing it from becoming what we wish it to become?

Serious attempts to improve the sector are few indeed; most of what we read, listen to and watch come under criticism, lamentation and threats to punish — exactly as prefaced in the parable above.

What is required now is not the “blame game”, for the easiest thing in the world is to blame others and to play the role of the executioner.

What is required is reform and empowerment first.

The sector is in need of support in order to rescue it from its so many crippling problems and impediments: Plans for development, training, sharpening of performance, and the provision of the necessary funds and able administrations.

Of great importance is the ending of the culture of apathy in the sector and content of doing little.

Punishment is not the solution; at best, it is part of the solution, for accountability and punishment come after empowerment and development, or parallel to them.

Being confined to the blame game is utmost failure.

“The basic premise here is: Empower me and then hold me accountable; rescue and then blame me.” 

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