Remarks by Ambassador Steve Ferrol - Secretary to the Cabinet

I wish to first thank the CPO and staff for organizing yet another series of activities leading to Public Service Day 2018. Thank you also for inviting me to address this ceremony.

This years theme, “Building a Resilient Public Service – A collective Response “, is significant coming on the heels of Hurricane Maria a life changing disaster. In fact it seem patterned of the theme of the national rebuilding and economic partnership consultation held right here at the goodwill parish hall on Monday, 19th  February, 2018. ‘Building the first Climate Resilient Country, our collective responsibility’. 



Lets go back a few months. Just imagine with me for a moment the, thousands of personal reactions that each Dominican experienced, stepping out on September 19, the morning after and witnessing in a real and immediate sense, the ravages of Hurricane Maria on our homeland.

Many were numb, for minutes, for some several it was many more minutes, just trying to deal with the fact that the place they call home was completely compromised and damaged. Some lost everything they valued.

Minutes later shock stepped in for many, when the realization of homelessness became clearer.

Looking across your immediate environment, you soon realized that many of your neighbours were even worst off than you.

You then moved to survival mode and immediately realized that you need to secure the basic food shelter and clothing for you and your family. For some this was an experience of sheer panic realizing also that your friends’ neighbours and family, in your community and across the island, were most likely experiencing the exact same thing.

For some of us the day after meant, finding our way to the Office, only to realize that the place of work received that same impact as your home and neighbourhood.

The irony at that stage for those public officers, who made themselves available, was that amidst all of these happenings, we realized immediately that there was much work to be done.  Whether at the Emergency Centre, the essential services, or in the respective communities, Dominica needed our assistance in providing a variety of services and in bringing basic supplies and assistance to people all over the island.

You may be wondering why I set this scenario, where am I going with this.  It is meant to vividly depict the true character and make up of a Post Maria, resilient Public Officer. This is true resilience.

I want to submit, that a resilient Public Officer is one who can adapt to changing situations in his personal, family, community and work life, as in the immediate aftermath of Maria and still find balance and Peace. 

A resilient public officer is one who can:

 Take the best possible care of himself;

 Secure the needs of his immediate family;

 Make the best possible contribution to his community; and at the same time 

 Deliver the best possible service to the public, commensurate with the tasks and responsibilities assigned to him or her.


By extension a Resilient Public Service is therefore one where the systems, processes and institutions can provide, regardless of the challenges, the best possible environment where every resident, like the resilient public officer, can live healthy comfortable and sustainable lives. 

In our case this must be done with the primary focus being, the achievement of our national vision – to make Dominica the first Climate Resilient Nation of the World.

Some work has been done in this area.

The Ministry of Planning has provided the leadership in a collaborative effort with the Committee of Permanent Secretaries to develop the National Resilient Development Strategy. This strategy includes a key focus on all ministries in an effort to build resilience is all sectors. Resilience in Agriculture; housing; Infrastructure; Forestry, education, health systems, among others. I invite you to familiarize your self this strategy.

Government has also set up the Climate Resilient Execution Agency for Dominica to provide the much needed oversight and implementation of the projects and programmes that will make our vision of a full climate resilient nation a reality.  Efforts are on the way towards the full establishment of the Agency. 

One Major Challenge remains: This new mission of building back better in every sector already require a new public service Governance and administrative structure. In this regard we are a bit behind. We have seen the capacity constraints and the limitations of existing processes and now know that we need an overhauled and refocused public service and we need it now.

 A public service that recognizes its capacity constraints and quickly identify the specific skill sets required;

 A public service that can quickly determine the exact mix between the minimum adjustment requires within the system and those areas that will require out side help;

 A public service that is prepared for the massive transfer of skill sets, new operating procedures that is now available and must be retained if we are to build back better and maintain Dominica as the first climate resilient nation once we get there; 

 In other words a service that will respond to CREAD and at the same time be prepared for the post CREAD era.

These are revolutionary times and modernization and refocusing is a must.

It is now our responsibility as the Public Service to develop our own sectoral structures and plans towards making this a reality. The Public Service Management is doing all in its power to provide the leadership required. 

Our collective responsibility is a pre requisite if we are to successfully size this moment and realize our goal. We must move from visualizing our role within the narrow confines of our desks units and divisions to the broader national action understanding.

In more direct terms we need to bring “All of Government to All of the People” through a more aggressive flexible and effective system of service delivery.  We must deliver. Our survival as a service depends on it.

Your respective salary and income is only a small part of the package, to the whole of Government, you also represent in equal proportions the collective budget and resources, running in to several millions, now assigned to you trust and available to your respective departments to provide services to nationals and residents alike. 

For Example Messengers and drivers across the system, although at the lower end of the pay scale are responsible for fleets of vehicle and other assets costing hundreds of thousands. Departments simple purchase new expensive vehicles and hand the key over to them. This is trust!!!

In this years estimates for example the total budget allocation for the Ministry of Health was in excess of 114 million, it therefore means that the staff collectively is charge with the responsibility of administering this amount in providing and delivering effective health care services to the General Public. Ministry of Agriculture was allocated in excess of 34 million Dollars, which means that, the staff is collectively charged with the responsibility to administer this allocation to provide agri services to residence.

In areas like Public works one single operator is trusted with equipment that can cost several hundreds of thousands.

What this means is that we are all equally in a position to do irreparable damage to the Government systems and to the people that we serve, or to collectively advance the work of our respective sectors and thus contributing to the economic development of Dominica and to better standard of living to all. We are determined, and hope we all are, to do the later.

How will we know that we are succeeding! 

It will be when the extention officer can visit each farm and can leave the farmer so satisfied that he cannot disaggregate the effects of the actual technical assistance given from the professionalism and care exhibited by that officer during the delivery.

It will be the comfort of the positive attitude, level of care and empathy, experienced by each patient entering the Government Health facility, that the process of healing begins even before any medication or procedure is administered.

This feeling of satisfied customer care should be the MAGIC that follows interactions with any public officer serving anywhere on the island. This is the new energy of our Resilient Public SERVICE.

I invite all of you’re here and every other public officer to journey with me toward building a Climate Resilient Public Service. This is what collectively we are paid to deliver.

Thank You for Listening!