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Malawi government abolishes PS2 positions

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Malawi government has abolished the positions of Principal Secretary one, two and three as well as those responsible for a ministry’s specific sector reducing the number from 41 to 18.

The other 23 principal secretaries will now be demoted to a position that Government has created which will be Chief Directors.

But in an interview on Thursday, Chief Secretary to Government, George Mkondiwa, insisted that this is not a demotion because those affected would continue getting the same perks.

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“This is not a demotion as they will continue getting the same perks. We just wanted to differentiate between them and the controlling officers,” said the Chief Secretary.

Sources in the government said the perks remain intact because they were already included in the current financial year but come next financial year the PSs would be getting more than the chief directors.

Mkondiwa admitted that “eventually there is going to be a difference in terms of the package because the controlling officer has to be seen to be earning more than the chief directors.”

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He argued that the difference will be necessary because the controlling officers would be in charge of the ministries and ordinarily are the ones who appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.

“Next Monday we will have all the controlling officers sign a compact with Secretary to Treasury so that they commit themselves to spend the money that they will be given without going overboard in terms of their budgets,” he said.

Mkondiwa said the other justification for the salary difference is to create a motivational aspect because at one point in time the chief director will have to be moved to become the controlling officer depending on the exigencies of the service.

“For instance, if we appoint the chief director responsible for energy to be the secretary of home affairs, he will get to the position of controlling officer,” he said.

Mkondiwa explained that they have had problems in ministries where one ministry had three PSs everyone calling himself or herself PS and in the process distorting the chain of command.

“So we decided to have one controlling officer and the others just for purposes of distinguishing them,” he said.

Mkondiwa said this is why they have decided that each ministry should have one controlling officer and that controlling officer will be called the Principal Secretary while others that were called PS2, PS3 will be called chief directors and meanwhile they will be at the level of PS.

Last week Vice President Saulos Chilima announced, as Chairperson of the Public Service Reforms Commission, that Government was making efforts to right-size the number of principal secretaries and senior government officials through redeployment, combining ministries and by not appointing or promoting officers to principal secretary position.

Chilima said when he briefed the media that the right-sizing process would continue until the intended reform purpose is achieved.

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