Wednesday, Jul 15, 2020
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The civil service

Our government workers over the years have had their share of criticism – some undoubtedly deserved, some not so much.

There are several reasons why people may seek out a career in the public service, either for job security and the variety of professions to choose from like the police force, teachers, defense force, in addition to customs and immigration.

From doctors and nurses to firemen, there is a good mixture of careers one can choose from. The government has assisted many Bahamians with higher learning, with the understanding that when they return home there is a minimum of years that they work with their specialty in the civil service.

The salary is often not like the one you would get in the private sector and often one sees an exodus from government jobs once the tenure has been served.

Many teachers have left the public sector, with some I know becoming lawyers and good ones at that! This career change alone would perhaps triple the salary they were making working for the government.

This is often the case in almost every facet of the civil service: those employees embarking into the private sector or even becoming self-employed continuing to build on the experiences they learned while working for the government.

Recently, and I might add the second time in several years, I had to go to the Office of the Registrar General to obtain my birth certificate, as one of my children needed it to renew a passport.

Anyone who has to do this knows that most often the office is very busy, so if you are going in the morning be prepared to wait and stand in line.

Quite frankly it’s not as bad as it looks, only because it’s a small place and looks a bit congested; however the staff are very professional, and in my case I had to go upstairs to get a copy of an affidavit. This is what happens when your mother has you registered in her maiden name when you are born and all of your other documents are in your father’s name. Welcome to The Bahamas.

Well, going upstairs, surrounded by records going back to Columbus, I said to myself, ‘No way in hell they are going to find an affidavit’, but lo and behold in 10 minutes it was found and I was out of the office in record time.

All of this time I was treated with absolute professional courtesy, not just me but as I was sitting down I heard another employee explain to a young man what needed to be done and soon he was out of the office with his document in hand, a very happy camper.

My experiences when I go into these government offices have truly been very pleasant. I have met some very nice people and you can strike up conversations with total strangers, which helps to pass the time as you wait your turn to be helped.

This was not a fluke, as the next time I had to go through this same procedure the staff was friendly and the service was excellent.

Again, this has been my experience with most civil servants: you go into their office, be pleasant and well-mannered and you will get what you came for.

But if you are nasty to them, be prepared to feel the wrath of that Bain Town woman! Yes that same one in my friend Pat Rahming’s song.

You better run.

• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation and two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association. William Wong is a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. E-mail:

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