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Le Hunte on problems at public utilities: Blame bureaucracy

Published: 
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Charmaine Gomez-Dolly, left, president of the National Association of Administrative Professionals of T&T, presents Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte with a token of appreciation during the association ’s leadership breakfast conference at Cascadia Hotel in St Ann’s, yesterday. PICTURE SHIRLEY BAHADUR

Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte yesterday said that bureaucracy is the major obstacle to fixing problems at public utilities in T&T and admitted that he finds it a “little bit frustrating” that he is not able to deliver a better level of service.

“That has been my major challenge,” he said when he spoke at Breakfast Morning hosted by the National Association of Administrative Professionals (NAAP) at the Cascadia Hotel, St Anns, for Administrative Professionals Week which is being observed from April 22 – 28.

Le Hunte, who spent most of his working life in the private sector and stepped down as executive director at HFC Bank Ghana Limited to take up his ministerial appointment last September, said he brought his standards and work performance to the ministry but is not satisfied that he is getting results.

“Sometimes I recognise that the constraints of the public service does not allow you to fix it just like that, or get that change. You have to work through. You have to work through the bureaucracy, you have to work through people. I have certain standards I would like to deliver and get the things corrected as quickly as possible,” he said.

Le Hunte said there is need for transformational change within public utilities and noted the difference in timeliness in delivering customer service between the public and private sectors.

He explained: “In the private sector you come up with an idea, you think about what needs to be done, and it is able to get done very quickly.

“I feel the pain of citizens when they call and somebody tells me that they don’t have water for a week. A week is putting it mildly. Sometimes people don’t have water for two weeks, three weeks. I cannot understand that as a service.

“I hear the pain when people call in for water and they are not able to get feedback and that really irritates me as a person. My goal has always been about fixing that and moving quickly to fix it.”

According to the minister, there is need for a paradigm shift in conversation, attitudes, habits, and the quality of service offered to citizens.

Democracy is, after all, government by the people, he said, which means that after voting in an administration, citizens are expected to be actively involved in governance, “using our conversations to foster attitudes of hard work, discipline and creativity in ourselves and others, and monitoring our own attitudes so that we can pull ourselves up when we are falling into complacency and despair.”

He appealed for improvement in the quality of service to citizens and urged the administrative professionals to do the same in their particular spheres of influence.

“The standard that we hold our peers to will be instrumental in changing the paradigm,” he said.

Le Hunte added that change happens, not in one fell swoop, but incrementally, in families, groups, organizations and communities and eventually the entire nation.

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