Ali Al Matani –
With many government agencies surrounded by controversies in terms of inefficiency and administrative complexities that limit investments, delay processes and services, and create dissatisfaction among the public, the solution could be privatisation of government services.
The private sector can do a better job and end many existing issues with respect to executing various transactions from government agencies. Entrusting private firms to provide such services that are now provided by government agencies in an unsatisfactory manner can bring about a great difference in service performance and output.
There is no doubt privatising government services will maintain the prestige of the state, as it will end negative comments about the service quality at the government level as well as the increasing public dissatisfaction with the bureaucracy in promptly finishing procedures.
Continued criticism of the government agencies’ poor performance quality and the snowballing of resentment due to the irresponsible behaviour of some employees will portray a poor picture of the state in front of citizens, residents and investors. This will harm the country’s prestige as the bad opinion spreads through the media, including social media and other public platforms.
Privatising government services will accelerate the pace of procedures and lead to delivery of services on time as the private sector works according to performance indicators, and focuses on productivity. The working hours in the private sector are longer than that in the government, which improves quality and speed of services.
In the private sector, there is a high degree of accountability and negligence of duties is not tolerated. Employees are evaluated on the basis of their performance levels and commitment. Promotion and other benefits depend on assessment, unlike the government sector, where both working and non-performing or even absent employees are considered equal and rated equally.
Privatising government services will increase competitiveness in service delivery. Whenever a company is found wanting in service quality, we can give the service to another company. However, it is impossible to prevent a government department from executing certain tasks and assign the same to a different department.
In the private sector, some services can be given to more than one company. This can create a paradigm shift in completing transactions and overall customer satisfaction. Compare this with the government sector, where the same employees continue to do the job in an inefficient manner for years or departments continue with their old, ineffective ways.
It may be noted the private companies will get fees from the government for providing government services. The more they accomplish, the more they will earn. Work in some companies may extend up to late hours, as opposed to government departments. For example, government departments stop receiving cash at 12 noon. Employees do not realise the importance of capital flow for the country’s treasury; it would be better if cash transactions are allowed up to 2pm.
Employees in the private sector are rewarded for their efficiency and achievements. This results in better service quality.
Government departments like ministries of manpower, commerce and industry, environment and climate affairs, municipalities, Royal Oman Police and other facilities can without delay start outsourcing their services. The difference in quality and results will be obvious.
The government has privatised the electricity services via “B.O.T” (Build, Operate, Transfer) system, and privatised some companies too. Going further, it can privatise companies to bring in labour, open trade registers, or undertake environmental dealings. The government has been thinking for years about supervising rather than implementing some services, especially in investment, and privatising production and service sectors.
Certainly, challenges will appear in every step taken by the government towards privatising certain services till things get normal. However, it will be a major step, especially in terms of finishing transactions quickly, value addition and national development. We hope the government studies the implications of privatising government services as soon as possible and work on this project, so as to improve the quality of services across segments and end public resentment against substandard government facilities.