As a senior officer in the Ministry, I am faced with a conflict of interest situation where the Minister concerned is seeking to realign a proposed road project in a way that benefits him personally. This conflict of interest is compounded by the fact that the realignment will result in the acquisition of more agricultural lands, the displacement of farmers, and the deforestation of the area.
The conflicts of interest in this situation are:
- Personal interest versus public interest: The Minister is seeking to benefit personally by having the road realigned closer to his farmhouse, which conflicts with the public interest in using government land with minimal private land acquisition and minimizing deforestation.
- Legal interest versus ethical interest: The Minister is suggesting that the land purchase would be legal, but it is not ethical as it would constitute an abuse of power and position.
- Individual interest versus collective interest: The Minister is seeking personal gain at the expense of the collective interest of the community, which is to have a well-planned and executed road project that minimizes environmental damage and farmer displacement.
As a public servant, my responsibilities in this situation are:
- Upholding the principles of integrity, impartiality, and non-partisanship in decision-making.
- Ensuring that decisions are guided by the public interest and the objectives of the government policy.
- Reporting any potential or actual conflict of interest to the appropriate authorities.
In this situation, I would reject the Minister’s request to realign the road project and refuse the offer of land purchase. Instead, I would advocate for the original plan, which minimizes private land acquisition and deforestation, and prioritize the interests of the community and the environment.
If the Minister persists in his request, I would report the matter to the appropriate authorities and seek guidance on how to proceed. I would also ensure that my decision-making is transparent and informed by ethical principles, and that I am accountable for my actions.
In conclusion, conflicts of interest can arise in public administration, and it is the responsibility of public servants to act with integrity, impartiality, and in the public interest. In this situation, the original road project plan should be upheld, and any attempts to compromise it for personal gain should be reported and dealt with appropriately.