HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 446 : 11 February 2009

Undervaluing our own Consultants!

So what can one expect following the recent Summit on the NSDP convened by the Office of Prime Minister last week? No doubt we can come up with wonderful solutions to address the nation’s problems but in reality, unless we address the basic fundamental principles of human nature, all these solutions and grandiose ideas would be useless unless people are prepared to listen and are prepared to change their attitudes.
Unfortunately, in our small country those in positions of authority don’t like being told what to do nor do they like being criticized or challenged. Government workers in senior positions are renowned for this stereotypical and negative attitude which is often reflected in poor quality advice, work output and service delivery.
The overuse of external consultants to undertake work which no doubt some of our own highly skilled people are capable of doing, undermines the level of expertise that is available on shore and it is no wonder many are beginning to leave because of this inability to listen and what can only be termed arrogant attitudes towards our own.
There have been many instances both present and in the past, where we have used external consultants at extraordinary cost, who come in country, conduct analysis of certain situations of which the information they are acquiring is obtained “freely” from our own people. There is no question as to the cost of these consultants and budgets are approved with very little difficulty especially in light of “intellectual property rights.”.
Put local consultants in a similar position, then there is the inevitable process of interviews, screening, cost analysis, delays and so forth and when it comes time to submit their costs, our very own people have the audacity to question their ability and the integrity of their costs, something which external consultants are rarely challenged on.
One might ask what is the difference, is it the colour of their skin, do they have BO or are there elements of nepotism, racism or sheer arrogance on the part of our own people in positions of authority towards local consultants?
When will they wake up and start valuing our own instead of running to outside consultants to tell us what we already know. They rape us of our intelligence and knowledge and then convert that very information into something that does not see tangible benefits except for the consultants and or the donors.
Examples are the proposed fuel depot purchasing, infrastructure development, health, education activities and now of late, our own proposed public sector reforms. We seem to be going full circle again where we are again becoming dependent on external agencies to dictate how the cycle of development should happen for the Cook Islands. And it is our very own who are promoting this process perhaps because of their own inability to do the job.
Take the Office of Prime Minister for example. If you were to conduct an in depth analysis of the level of experience of the people employed there, you will be hard pressed to find anyone of real substance give or take one or two. This is not denying there are some good people in there however this is a matter of real concern as these are the very people who are responsible for co-ordinating the future policy direction of this country yet perhaps lack the depth and strategic intelligence to come up with real solutions but rather a lacklustre approach as to how they prepare reports or engage consultants.
Again, like many other Ministries, they seem to have missed the fundamental principle that what’s more important is “people.” We sometimes fail to listen to what people are saying and our own ignorance confirms the negative attitude that “we know what’s best.”
Admittedly, the Summit may have been a wake up call or a reality check but the question is” for who?” Let’s hope that the Office of Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance will take heed of the suggestions put forward and that they will seriously consider the spirit and merit in which those suggestions were put forward.
So to government, remember there are still some good people on shore so use them, don’t abuse them. Oh, and a friendly piece of advice; listen, you’re not infallible nor are you indispensable. After all, you are all one of us!

Herald Issue 439 11 February
- ‘I wanted to finish 3 years ago’ - Sam Pera Jnr?
- Government hangs Ruaau out to dry
- Flies reach epidemic level in Arorangi
- Economic Summits – Talking the Talk or Walking the Talk
- Parliament: Deregistration, Fuel farm and OIA amendment

Herald Issue 445 04 February
- The third political party: Why?
- Christmas message
- New Party will offer decisive leadership
- 2008 Kokonati Oscars of the year !
- Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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