The most recent statement from Chief Minister Pramod Sawant pertaining to recruitment in government jobs is a call for some major reforms in the system. At the recruitment fair, he said that a year’s experience will be made mandatory for anybody seeking to work in a government department. This is not part of the existing recruitment rules and for this statement to be converted into action, it will require that the rules be amended, without which this will never be possible. The chief minister also said that the rules have not been amended for 30 years and went on further to reiterate that all government recruitment will be conducted through the Staff Selection Commission, via competitive exams.
Such moves from the government would definitely be welcome in the State, but two questions arise immediately based on these statements.
The first is whether the government is really serious about this to the point of bringing about this amendment and changing something that has not been touched for decades. The second question is whether MLAs will readily allow bringing all recruitment to government jobs under the Staff Selection Commission.
Addressing the first question, it will be a major departure from what is the current recruitment process. It will require quite a major effort on the part of the government to make it happen. Also, there have been fears raised that this could delay the filling up of government posts, as candidates would have to get experience before even applying for a job in the public sector. Besides, would private firms be willing to release their employees after just a year or two, during which they have invested in training them?
On the second question of recruitment via the Staff Selection Commission, it is not a new statement, but has been made before. In fact, the Staff Selection Commission was constituted not too long ago for this express purpose. However, politicians are known to dangle the carrot of government jobs before their constituents in exchange for votes. If there is a competitive exam, politicians will have no hold or influence in the recruitment process. This will turn into a major bone of contention among politicians, so it remains to be seen how it can be overcome.
Let’s look also at how government recruitment currently occurs in Goa. Most government jobs do not require any experience, except for some top posts that are filled up by the Public Service Commission where the process is very competitive. The number of the latter is negligible. The eligibility criteria for government jobs consist of educational qualifications, age, knowledge of the official language and physical fitness depending on the post.
This has allowed anybody who holds that educational qualification to get into a government department, with no weightage given to the ability of the recruit. If the government wants quality, then it has to make the recruitment process competitive. One cannot overlook the fact that there was an instance when all 8000 that had answered a test for accounts posts had failed, indicating the abilities of those who could have got recruited based merely on their educational qualifications. Getting the Staff Selection Commission involved in all recruitment, could get a better crop of recruits in government service.
The other question now is whether experience in the private sector can change all this and bring about efficiency in government service. Earlier, the chief minister himself had said that staff who are not efficient will be retired, an admission that such staff does exist in government service.
Hopefully, this will bring about some change in government departments.
Another interesting statement from the chief minister is his calling on graduates to upgrade their qualifications while in private service and not depend merely on their degrees to get a government job. This, too, is an excellent move bringing in better staff and also increasing efficiency. In fact, the recruitment rules should give added weightage to additional qualifications and experience as it is an indication that the candidate wants to improve upon his knowledge and his abilities. These are all welcome moves by the government and the changes should be speeded up so that whatever new candidates the government will be absorbing come after the changes have been made.
But none of this will happen unless all these statements made by the chief minister at the job fair are converted into actions. That is the most important step. The first will be the amendment to the recruitment rules, without which none of the changes can be taken forward. The faster this is made, the better it shall be for Goa and the Goa government service.