Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Speech at 2012 Service Excellence Awards

Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

Tonight we recognise and celebrate the achievements of a group of exceptional individuals and departments – the best of our civil service in Fiji.

As your Prime Minister, I regard the Public Service Excellence Awards as one of the most important days on the national calendar.

Why? Because we all have a solemn duty, as public servants, to uphold our vows to serve all Fijians– with absolute dedication and integrity.

All of you in this room are contributing to building a better Fiji through the work you do in the service of the nation.

But tonight we honour a select few – those whose performance has been judged to be exceptional.

These are people who have gone beyond the call of duty, who represent the finest traditions of the civil service.

To all of them I say: you are the backbone of government, the people who keep the machinery of the state well oiled and turning properly.

You are leading by example. You are the people who the junior ranks look up to and the people they aspire to be.

It is your skill that is delivering best practice, your hard work that sets the standard for others, and your integrity that keeps the civil service free of the widespread corruption that used to mar its performance.

Tonight, your fellow civil servants salute you. Tonight, I salute you on behalf of the nation and thank you for your service.

We all know there are elements in the civil service who haven’t met the high standards we require.

There is incompetence, laziness and corruption. There is a lack of initiative amongst some at the lower levels, who prefer to pass their decision-making responsibilities up the chain. All of this slows down the machinery of Government, and more importantly reneges on our commitment to service-delivery for the public. There is no excuse for it.

My Government is determined to root out the wrongdoers and the slackers. And rest assured that if you are corrupt, we will find you and deal with you with the full force of the law.

This, of course, is a small minority. Fortunately, the majority of civil servants take their duties seriously. And some – like the winners tonight – aspire to greatness.

These awards recognise that you are all role models. You are setting the standard. Your performance is the benchmark on which others are judged.

You understand that in the performance of your duties, there is always room for kindness and compassion. This does not mean, nor should it mean, breaking the rules or favoritism, but rather understanding the human element, providing assistance and showing empathy. We are here to identify with and serve the people.

This is the eighth year of these awards and my Government continues the reform program that it introduced to serve our people better.

At the start of this year, we gave all our civil servants a three per cent pay rise. Doctors and nurses got an additional three per cent to recognise the special work they do. And our police officers received a nine per cent pay rise incorporating the Job Evaluation Exercise.

From the beginning of 2013, individual civil servants will be assessed on their individual performance and paid accordingly. The better you perform, the more money you will get.

This is one of the most basic reforms of all – to reward individual effort and encourage initiative and innovation. We are freeing our smarter workers from the straightjacket of being grouped with their less ambitious peers and giving them the opportunity to excel and reap the benefits.

We are also extremely fortunate to have assistance from outside Fiji to raise our overall standards.

I particularly want to thank the Government of Singapore for making available Mr. Peter Ho, who so eloquently shared with us his experiences of being a public servant in a country that is a benchmark for excellence itself.

No country in the Asia Pacific region inspires us more than Singapore. In 50 years, this small island nation, approximately the size of Taveuni, has grown – through good governance and hard work – into one of the economic giants of the region.

It has successfully forged a range of individuals and groups into a united, peaceful, non-corrupt, modern, well-educated and dynamic nation.

Singapore is the way Fiji aspires to be, the way Fiji will be if Fijians work as hard as Singaporeans to make it happen.

Thank you also, Singapore, for standing by us.

My Government has and is implementing best practices and standards. We have shown the world that Fiji can and will progress.

We know that our vision of a nation in which all Fijians have equal rights that are legally enshrined is the right one.

Thanks largely to the efforts of the men and women of the civil service, we are building a better Fiji, a stronger Fiji, and a fairer Fiji for all Fijians. And not just for our own times but for the future generations.

I wish you all an enjoyable evening.

Thank you. Vinaka vakalevu.