No other institution in Barbados possesses as wide and varied skills as the public service, but these skills have to be channelled in ways that would contribute to national development.

This view was expressed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, during his brief remarks at the end of a recent two-day retreat for Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and other senior public servants, at the Crane Resort, St. Philip.

The retreat provided the opportunity for Government???s policymakers and their top administrators and advisors to discuss major matters relating to the functions of government; explore relationships among key Government agencies; and seek solutions to existing problems within Ministries and Departments in a relaxed atmosphere.

Mr. Stuart noted that the public service as a whole dealt with more members of the public that any other institution, and that its decisions affected a wide cross section of persons.

He stressed that a well-functioning public service was therefore a must, adding that the sector must be so configured as to facilitate and manage change. He called on his Cabinet colleagues to ensure that the skills of public servants were ???utilised and mobilised???.

Deeming the session a success, the Prime Minister added: ???As we leave this retreat, public servants better understand the thinking of the Cabinet and Cabinet better understands the thinking of public servants.???

Head of the Civil Service, Martin Cox, said one of major aims of the retreat was to discuss the governance of Barbados??? public affairs, adding that it was important to ???reinforce the importance of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries knowing their roles, respecting each other???s roles, thereby facilitating the development of professional trust???. He stressed that an enhanced interface between the political directorate and the administrative arm of Government was an essential component in the smooth operations of the State.

One of the topics up for discussion was the relationship between Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Boards and Chief Executive Officers. Participants viewed a video featuring Wendell Lawrence, a former Financial Secretary in the public service of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. His presentation entitled: Fearless Advice, Loyal Execution, was well received.

Other agenda items that attracted robust discussion by participants included the structure of management meetings; proper consultation with key agencies such as the Ministries of the Civil Service, Attorney General???s Chambers, Finance and Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs; improving Government???s communications with the public; improving the relationship between the public and private sectors; Cabinet committees; as well as improving the oversight of Government???s capital projects.

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