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Nominating undersecretaries from outside ministries

April 24, 2014 - 6:12:39 am

• Are not there qualified people in the ministries anymore, so that nominations are being made from outside? 

• I suggest the formation of a special committee under the Prime Minister to assess whether people nominated for leading posts are fit for the job. 

• Committee members should have the right to nominate people for leading positions from the same institution or people qualified for these positions from other places. 

I wrote an article, “The flooding of Salwa Road Tunnel” on March 30. I talked about the importance of the decision by the Prime Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani to set up a committee led by the Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning 

H E Sheikh Abdelrahman bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani comprising senior engineers and other experts to probe the cause behind the flooding of the Salwa Road tunnel. It will investigate if any technical fault in development work led to the flooding, and find out those responsible. 

I use the aforementioned article in referring to another important consideration —the effect of people nominated for a job on carrying out the job. I recently read about the nomination of two people to the post of undersecretaries from outside ministries. Still more important is the selection of assistant undersecretaries and heads of departments. These must be qualified people and should have adequate experience for their new jobs.

Announcing the administrative restructuring of ministries is a good step. The move will help improve performance and avoid repetition of work. The news also talked about the creation of authorities under the ministers. 

Such news is good and makes people happy. But the news about nomination of undersecretaries from outside the ministries is strange. The news also made us feel pessimistic about the future and contradicted the feelings we had after announcement of the administrative restructuring of the ministries. 

This is actually a summary of what a large segment of people working with the public sector felt. Let us discuss this issue from two sides, taking the opinions of these people into account:

First, appointing undersecretaries from outside the ministries should be looked into from an important angle and the minister must take this into consideration. There must be an investigation into whether the ministers appoint these persons because they are qualified or there is nepotism. Ministers always laud Qatari employees in their ministries. They say they work very hard and represent their country outside in the best way. 

If this is the case, why do not ministers nominate these persons for leading positions in their ministries? Are not there any qualified people inside the ministries to shoulder responsibility? These people know the nature of work in their ministries better than outsiders. They know what their ministries need and what each department or administration needs. The ministers should personally know their staff members.

So they can judge the ability of the employees without being influenced by others’ opinion. The question that must be asked of ministers who have been in their positions for some years is: How could they do their job in the absence of qualified people in their ministries? The only conclusion one can make is that the ministers recruit outsiders so that they do whatever they are asked to (regardless of whether it is right or wrong).

Some outsiders do not know a lot about the nature of work in these ministries, which is quite normal for such persons. 

Second, is there a problem to make appointments from outside ministries? Some ministers used to work in fields totally different from their ministerial positions now. Even with this, some ministers achieved considerable success in their new places. The ministers are also asked by the Cabinet to depend on people working with them in their ministries. Are the ministers afraid so they bring with them their teams from outside the ministries when they take over charge? 

There are many questions out there. Such questions make people tired. This is why I have demanded a special committee under the Prime Minister to follow up the nominations process and make sure whether the people nominated for these posts deserve them. It should investigate whether they have the necessary qualifications or not. Committee members should also have the right to cancel the nominations of unqualified candidates. The members of the committee should be directly responsible to the prime minister.

It means that the state — represented by its officials — ensure that only qualified people take over leading posts inside ministries and enjoy the honour of serving their countries and working in the government sector. 

I am sure a large segment of the Qatari community would wish for this in their country. A ministerial job is a political one, at the end of the day. This means that people nominated for the position must be qualified for the job. The undersecretary is like a chief executive officer who supervises the entire work inside the ministries. This is particularly true after the announcement of the administrative restructuring of the ministries. 

We are optimistic about the future. Our country is full of optimism, especially under the leadership of the Emir, 

H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. It is also so under follow up by Prime Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.