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Government Gazette

Jobs on skill and merit

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s determination to end the era where youth have to go after politicians for jobs should be applauded. No other politician had voiced this bold view in the past fearing adverse political consequences. Besides the President has good reason to end this culture of political patronage to obtain employment. He has set the ground work in the education sphere for the youth to come up by their own initiative. Already he has pioneered the spread of English IT knowledge into the far reaches of the country. Therefore the present day youth have now been given the opportunity to obtain quality employment, instead of depending on politicians to give them any odd job.

Therefore according to the President’s declaration very soon the era where youth went after politicians to get jobs will be a thing of the past. And it is about time. Enough damage and heartburn has been caused by this patronage system where only the supporters of one political party was privileged.

Addressing a political rally in Matale the President said a culture should be created where youth would obtain gainful employment in accordance with their skills and knowledge without having to depend on political backing.

It is hoped that the President’s stand would be taken cognisance of by all politicians in the fray for the General Election and make this a starting point to end this despicable culture that has not only ruined the public sector but also caused uprisings due to the perceived injustice of the system.

The offer of jobs should never be the criterion by which politicians should aspire to win their voters. Rather it is the opportunities and scope for employment generation that should be unravelled. Today one sees milling crowds of youth hanging around at the homes and campaign offices of candidates - a majority of them expecting jobs.

While it is expected of any politician to ‘look after’ his supporters this should not be at the expense of the general public. Today due to this patronage system many of our State institutions are in the red bursting at the seams with unproductive political appointees.

Of course political influence for obtaining jobs is not a new development. It has existed from the very inception of the political party system of this country. Supporters of the politician work for him during an election expecting favours and the politician has to make good his promise if he is to succeed in getting re-elected. This way he dispenses with various favours such as issuing liquor licences, granting tenders and other contracts especially to those financial backers of his campaign.

These type of favours can be condoned as it has no direct bearing on the general public. But when it comes to jobs it is definitely a different kettle of fish. This is because these jobs have to be given in the public sector which as already mentioned is packed with political appointees under all regimes. Hence it is a direct burden on the public who will invariably have to pick up the tab.

Besides these jobs are given overlooking qualifications and suitability. The result - a public sector choked with misfits and deadwood,bringing with it inefficiency and lethargy, with the public given a raw deal. Over the years we have witnessed this problem taking a turn for the worse with the public institutions virtually becoming a haven for political appointees ruining the viability of these institutions.

The best example of this is the former CTB when the then UNP regime recruited even baila singers to top posts resulting in the death knell to this once profitable venture.

The President no doubt has taken cognizance of the damage caused to State institutions by indiscriminate recruitment courtesy ruling party politicians and wants to stem the tide. Hence his emphasis on qualifications being the criterion for any recruitment. It is hoped all heads of institutions will heed this call by the President and stop succumbing to political pressure to fill their organisations willy nilly with political appointees. They have the full backing of the President to resist such moves.

It is time the system of political patronage is dispensed with altogether and a new culture established where merit and merit alone will win the day.

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