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Public services get ‘C’ grade by Seychelles citizens in national survey

Victoria, Seychelles | April 21, 2015, Tuesday @ 18:53 in National » GENERAL | By: Hajira Amla | Views: 4475
Public services get ‘C’ grade by Seychelles citizens in national survey

Commuters at the main bus terminal in Victoria. The biggest improvement recorded in the perception of public service delivery was by the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC), which rose by 28.6 percent to 60.6 percent from a lowly 32 percent in 2003. (Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - The citizens of Seychelles have rated the overall performance of their public services at 64.1 percent in a Public Service Delivery Survey, the results of which were released in a report last week by the Department of Public Administration (DPA).

Seychellois people’s opinion of 62 public service providers, including four private services, was evaluated last year through a nationwide survey targeting the participation of 1,500 randomly-selected households across the country.

Respondents were asked to give a score for categories such as accessibility, adequacy and efficiency, timeliness, staff competency, staff attitude and fairness.

The survey was initiated by the DPA, who worked with the National Bureau of Statistics as the implementing agency.

Highly rated: Seychelles fire and rescue services putting out a fire aboard Spanish fishing vessel 'Demiku' in June 2014 (Seychelles Ports Authority) Photo License: CC-BY 

A total of 1,835 questionnaires were completed across all the districts of the country. Two adults of each selected household were interviewed, and administrative officers in public and private sectors completed just four percent of the survey sample.

The last survey of this nature was undertaken over ten years ago in 2003, which delivered an overall result of 55 percent satisfaction with the country’s public services, indicating a general improvement of nine percent in the past decade.

Jessie Esparon, the Chief Secretary for the Public Service in the Department of Public Administration (DPA), told local television station Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) that the results were presented to the CEOs of state-owned enterprises at the Chief Executives’ Forum held on Friday last week and added that the results would also be made available to the public.

The overall results for the top five and bottom five service satisfaction ratings in each of the six categories surveyed in the questionnaire (Department of Public Administration) Photo License: CC-BY

“It’s good to know what the public thinks, because we in the public service, we are paid with public funds; we work for the public from tax that they pay which is then paid to us as our salaries,” she said. “But what they think is important, it matters as we say.”

“Those results, they [CEOs] have to take them and look at where they can improve on them. The government has also taken a decision that organisations need to deliver the services that are specific to them, that address [the needs of] their clientele…” said Esparon.

Accessible, but not always on time

According to the report, the general public was most satisfied with the aspect of accessibility – 72 percent of the public reported public services to be within reach in terms of either physical access or by other means such as information and telecommunication systems.

“On average, between 64 to 65 percent of respondents agreed that the outlook on staff competency, staff attitude, adequacy, and fairness was satisfactory and up to expectations,” read the report.

However, timeliness was highlighted by most respondents as the aspect of service delivery which was the most lacking, and was similarly highlighted as one of the most noteworthy aspects of public service in need of improvement from the 2003 survey. 

Lowest ranked but still the highest climber: a member of the traffic police directs traffic in the Seychelles capital of Victoria (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Gains and losses

The biggest improvement recorded in the perception of public service delivery was by the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC), which rose by 28.6 percent to 60.6 percent from a lowly 32 percent in 2003.

Another of the biggest climbers were the Seychelles Police, which although ironically still ranked the lowest of all the public services, improved by 17.4 percent since the last survey. Ambulance services improved by 15 percent from 63.3 percent to 51.6 percent and the Planning Authority improved by 18.5 percentage points from 37.7 to 56.2 percent.

The biggest losers were the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC)’s Electricity department, which dropped almost 18 percent from 82.6 in 2003 to 64.7 percent in 2014. Similarly, PUC's water utility service fared dismally in the public eye, falling 12.5 percentage points from 75.3 to 62.8 percent.

Government health services generally fared worse, with perceptions of government dental services, hospital services and casualty services falling by 11.2, 5.2 and 4.8 percentage points respectively.

The overall mean scores for the low service satisfaction ratings (left) and the overall high mean scores (right) (Department of Public Administration) Photo License: CC-BY

Private services not always the popular choice

Where private services competed with public services, for example in the health and legal services, Esparon claimed that the public was generally more satisfied with private services.

“However, on the schools side, we have seen that public opinion, in general, is more in favour of the services which our state schools offer, so there is a bit of balance,” she added.

Private health clinics were rated with a total score of 81 percent overall, but on average, three-quarters of respondents rated the government dental services more favourably than its private competitors.

For Seychellois, access to government health and dental services is free, and access to government education in primary and secondary school is also free of charge, making the market for private health and educational services relatively small among the population of 90,000 people.

Currently, there are 33 public schools across the Seychelles, compared to just three private schools that offer primary and secondary schooling, and government health services face competition from just 14 private medical practices and clinics.

The results of the 2014 report will aid government ministries and state-owned enterprises to better assess the effectiveness of their customer service policies, and to find what further improvements are desired.

According to the report, strategic analysis of the results will help the government to identify and assess the needs and perceptions of the public. The survey will now be conducted every five years.

Esparon said that it was important for public service organisations to continually think about public satisfaction throughout the year and throughout the entire period of time that will pass before the next survey is conducted in five years’ time.

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Tags: public service, Department of public Administration, Jessie Esparon, state-owned enterprises, Public Utlities Corporation, Seychelles Public Transport Corporation, health, police, Seychelles Land Transport Agency, Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency

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