Stéphane Valeri is a noted public official with an impressive track record who in recent interviews has discussed his current role and future career prospects. This article presents highlights of several recent discussions on various topics.
Seven years as a president of the National Council. Seven years as a councillor to the government Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. And recently on the 9th of February Stéphane Valeri highlighted that it was on the 9 February 2003, when his coalition Union Pour Monaco (UPM) won 21 out of 24 seats in the National elections against the UND. Who would be surprised to read that recently, a guest of the Monaco Press club at the Yacht Club, the former president of the National Council spoke at length about politics?… It was an intense and informative encounter; The National UM Councillor Jean-Louis Grinda even insisted: “I am very pleased to speak with you. You master your subjects remarkably well. You express yourself remarkably well also.” This task was not so easy… as there were some ‘sensitive’ subjects. The first question asked was about the CHPG…
The hospital requires a lot of work and certainly it is the biggest entity you have to manage.
When the Prince entrusted me with the Department of Social Affairs, the hospital was indeed a big entity. My role was to define the health project, the organisation of the services of the future hospital. The Prince established cuts in 2011 and reduced by 25% the volume and number of rooms provided for in the previous project to avoid excessively widening of the deficit. There were decreased beds for heavy surgery and orthopaedic surgery, and more for outpatient and dialysis. We wanted a functional facility that works well and at reasonable prices. It has been done.
Is the construction of the new hospital in place of the current CHPG a good choice?
It was a choice that was made after a lengthy debate. It’s not necessarily the option I was defending. But the government has taken decisions, and I carry them out. It’s complicated, of course, to build a hospital on a busy site. The problem is that in 2010, when I took office, we were very advanced in other projects on the neglected SNCF. No doubt we have made the only choice we could make.
Now it’s longer and more complicated. I pay tribute to the work of my colleague, Marie Pierre Gramaglia, who is doing all she can to make the nuisances as limited as possible. After all, 2021 is not that far. That is when the first section of the hospital will be delivered. Patients will see a significant change.
In recent months, the CHPG has encountered difficulties with several department heads and deputy heads. The most recent upset to date: the Urology service…
Managing a hospital is very complicated. The CHPG consists of 2,700 employees, including 220 doctors; it’s one of the biggest employers in Monaco, with three unions. We must remember how things work in the hospital: competing juries are in charge of recruiting doctors. The only objective is to choose better people. In urology, the choice was unanimously for a very good French urologist, Dr. Hervé Baumert. But the chemistry with the deputy in office was not working for several years. Unfortunately, this conflict of people created tensions within the hospital. The sovereign Prince took the right decisions. The two doctors left and another great urologist started in January: Dr. Hervé Quintens. We have started again on a good basis.
This was not the only problem. Is there still tension or not?
Yes, there are some tensions and misunderstandings. That is true. There are misunderstandings that must be dealt with. I asked the two unions SHAM and SIPAR to join us around the table, with the management, to renew the dialogue. It should be remembered that the management of the hospital has been greatly improved. The accounts have been largely restored, social progress has been made: creation of a supplementary pension, protection of purchasing power, Christmas bonuses, extension of the daycare, creation of a Monegasque index scale to ensure that for all roles they are always better paid than in French public hospitals.
Is it true that the hospital director’s contract expires next summer?
Patrick Bini is a seconded French civil servant and will reach the age of retirement next July. But this can be extended by the sovereign Prince beyond his 65 years.
Regarding the national elections
In one year there will be the national elections. Will you be a candidate? (Laughter in the room)
I find that this question should arouse some interest because I am asked it very often. There are even people who tell me they would like to see it happen. The position I have held for seven years is exciting and I am fully invested in it. Currently, this is my concern and I do not have time to think about anything else. Your question is not valid at this time.
What do you think of Jean-François Robillon, Jean Louis Grinda and Bernard Pasquier’s bill, which would require senior officials like yourself to resign 18 months before standing as a candidate for the National Council?
As a member of the government, I do not have to say anything. As a former president of the National Council, since this is an electoral issue, yes I have an opinion. It is only for me. We are 7,000 voters. Anything that prevents these Monegasques from standing as candidates is a bad thing in the sense that it would be a possible weakening of the National Council. There are still many high-ranking officials in the ministerial departments. Imagine that one of them gets unemployed 18 months before an election without being sure of being elected. That means, very concretely, that there would be no senior civil servant in this country who could stand for election. I believe that Monegasques should have freedom of choice. That is good common sense. Everyone has convictions. There is no country in the world where this principle is applied. In France, for example, we would not have Emmanuel Macron a candidate for the presidential election; Manuel Valls could not have been a candidate for the primary either…
If not 18 months, maybe a minimum time-frame would be needed?
Of course, senior civil servants in democratic countries are not in office during election campaigns. There is a delay that they themselves must decide. And ultimately the decision comes back to the voters. All good principles have limits. In such a small country Like Monaco, let us beware of incompatibilities.
What would be the right amount of delay?
In the neighbouring country, it’s seven/eight months and voters seem to have accepted that, if I understand the polls.
Are you in favour of the professionalization of parliamentarians?
It is truly an issue. The workload in the National Council has grown considerably. The work is more technical and more complex. It would be nice if the issue would be addressed by the lists of candidates at the next election. Can a key position such as president be a volunteer? I chose to have others run my business to devote myself totally to the National Council when I was president. But an employee, tomorrow, how can he do it? I’m for having a real debate.
“Layoff plans have slowed growth”
What action have you been most proud of in the past seven years?
The safeguarding of the pension plan for employees, which resulted in the unanimous vote of the National Council on the increase of the employers’ contributions by 0.8% and wage by 0.4%. We had had alerts and a reserve fund that had started to diminish. Today, the reform allows us to be more reassured.
Is the change in the number of employees in line with the numbers on which you based the decision?
There have been more collective layoffs than planned in the industry, SBM Offshore and the banking sector (at HSBC in particular), which has led to a stabilised or even a slight decrease in the number of employees in 2016. These redundancy plans have slowed growth. If the figures do not go up, the contributions of 0.4% for employers and for employees would probably have to be increased again.
Telecommuting: “The potential is colossal”
Are you satisfied with the implementation of telecommuting?
It has been an upheaval in business. The act was passed in June. Today, after a few months of decline, about fifteen companies have switched to telecommuting and recently the total was reported as 122 teleworkers. We are on the right path. In France, we have incredible numbers with 96% satisfaction. With telecommuting, once people have tried it they tend to adopt it.
Any particular type of business?
Monaco Telecom was the first, followed by shipping companies and new technology sectors. The potential is colossal.
An employee profile?
For the employer, you probably need to trust your employee. In France, there has been a 15-year period of hindsight. Absenteeism decreased; productivity and happiness of the employees increased.
How many jobs do you expect in the long run?
Around 7,000 jobs if we rely on the European average of 15%. It will not only be job creation but also transformations of contracts.
And with Italy?
We have made proposals on the basis of the Franco-Monegasque agreement and we are waiting for the reply of the Italians.
A quote on the spot
“The integration commission for young graduates works! Today, 134 companies are partners of the Commission for the Integration of Young Graduates (CID). In seven years we have opened the doors of private enterprise to more than 200 young Monegasque graduates and young residents in executive positions. That is huge. We are experiencing a sociological shift in the Monegasque workforce. Today, more than 1,000 Monegasques work in the private sector. And if the evolution continues, there will be, in a few years, more assets of Monegasque nationality in the private sector than in public administration.”
- Any resolutions for this year?
Lose three kilos and do more sport [laughs]. More seriously. To continue to give the best of myself to deserve the trust that the Prince has shown me.
- Your professional career: passion or reason?
- Having a good job, what does that mean?
- The man or woman in history who fascinates you the most?
General de Gaulle. For me he is a role-model, the spirit of unity, vision, courage.
- The political advancement of any century in which you would have liked to participate?
Without hesitation, the right to vote for women.
- Your definition of “social”?
Helping as much as possible those who need it most: abused children, the elderly, the unemployed, the sick. This does not mean dependence on state assistance. Of course, we must fight against the rare cases of abuse and be ruthless with cheaters.
- The law you would like to see implemented in the 21st century?
If I could one day contribute to the fight against the discrimination of women at work. But I do not know how a law can suffice.
- Your place of refuge?
My country house in Saint-Martin de Peille.
One thing is for sure, in these interviews Stéphane Valeri has demonstrated some of his great accomplishments in the government and the ways decisions made throughout his career have helped shape Monaco’s future.