The draft Law on Civil Service is currently awaiting its second reading in the Parliament. Its primary task is to set the further direction of its development and to solve, in compliance with the law, the issues currently faced both by citizens in their claims to public authorities, and by civil servants in their line of duty. In a recent meeting on this matter, the President noted that the civil service is the most important public institution and its effectiveness directly affects the successful development of the country, improving the quality of life and living standards of people. The Chairperson of the Standing Commission on State Building Valentin Semenyako, professor Alexander Ivanovsky, and expert of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research Svetlana Aleinikova discussed the image of a civil servant, responsibility and ethics.
S. Aleinikova: As a sociologist, that is, a person who studies society, the needs, expectations and assessments of varoius social and professional groups, I can say that the majority of citizens do not have clear understanding of a civil servant duties. As a rule, these visions are very "blurred" and reduced to the concept of an official which, probably, since Gogol times, has not the most positive associations in the Slavic tradition. At the same time, alike stereotypes indicate that the image of a civil servant needs more transparency, openness, and clarity. In turn, as a civil servant, I cannot fail to mention the relevance, importance and timeliness of addressing such a draft law, as since 2003, when an appropriate law was adopted, not only our society, but the world as a whole, have experienced noticeable changes. Institutions and processes are changing, thus requiring new approaches and norms.
As for the somewhat mysterious image of a civil servant, I can cite the results of a sociological study conducted among civil servants by the Academy of Public Administration on demand of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research. For example, the most important personal values for respondents are peace, law, justice, and security. The priority areas of the country's development, as indicated by the colleagues, are addressing the existing social and economic issues (the settlement of prices for housing and utilities services and medicines, resolving business-related issues), improving local government and self-government, implementing political initiatives, and others.
On ethical standards
S. Aleinikova: The issue of professional ethics is a very important component of a number of professions: we often hear about medical ethics, legal ethics, and others. At the same time, the ethics of civil servants at the level of fundamental principles is already formulated in the Law on Civil Service in the Republic of Belarus". These are the principle of constitutional supremacy, service to the people, legality, priority of human and civil rights and freedoms, guarantees of their implementation, humanism and social justice, control and accountability of civil servants, personal responsibility for non-performance or improper performance of their official duties, and others. The law provides for the range of strict restrictions, which a civil servant has the right to pass over. For example, to engage in business activities, to use their official position for promoting the interests of relatives, to accept presents or benefits in connection with the performance of their duties. Therefore, I will express a subjective opinion that a certain code or code of ethics of the civil service is more necessary for society — so that the "blurred" and distant image of a civil servant becomes more clear and close.
Discipline at the head
S. Aleinikova: As known, the President has expressed on reinforcing the civil servants' liability.
Their understanding of personal increased responsibility is a necessary condition and one of the guarantees of public confidence in state institutions as a whole.
Insignia and prestige
S. Aleinikova: At the meeting, the Head of State outlined the need to develop insignia for civil servants. Whether this norm will be laid down in the law or some other instruments (regulations, instructions), the near future will show.
In my opinion, the civil servant image prestige depends primarily on himself: his professionalism, decency, commitment to the State. The issues of regalia, salaries, and distinctions are important, but the main thing is an honest attitude to your work, serving people.
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