Operations of government entities to come under scrutiny through ‘mystery shopper’

Prime Minister wants civil service open to University students who can ‘give insight on department problems’ through thesis study

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

The operations of government departments offering different services to the public will come under scrutiny through “a mystery shopper”, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced.

Speaking in parliament, Muscat announced that a private agency will be recruited to help government study the problems within its departments, in a bid to improve the service.

“An agency will be recruited to apply ID cards, renewal of driving licenses, permits to set up cranes on the road and so forth, without however the authorities knowing that the applicant was a mole,” he said.

The agency would then report to the government on the services received.

“Government workers don’t know what normal people go through when seeking public services, and I think this will help us improve our services,” he said.

Muscat noted that the public service was not famed for its planning, a situation which the government wanted to reverse.

Regional one-stop shops will open in Paola, Birkirkara and Qawra for people to take up to 250 government services, as an attempt to cut down red tape through hopping between government departments.

Muscat also said that the civil service and government departments should be more open to university students, “who can give insight to department problems” through thesis studies.

“We want more postgraduates to enter the civil service and we have opened placements for university students at government departments for their thesis and assignments. Often, the students can give civil servants an insight on certain problems within the department.”

Muscat reiterated that red tape was the biggest enemy of economic growth. “More bureaucracy and more transparency will lead to more economic growth,” he added. “At the same time, we have to be careful because the simplification of procedures opens us up to criticism that we are making the law more lax.” 

The government was working to improve online services, including removing the need for e-ID were possible. “As a citizen, I remember having to pay the CVA after receiving the bill but to pay online I needed an e-ID which meant that I had to go Valletta to apply for one.”

Muscat said the new ID cards automatically come with an e-ID.