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Mutharika to ‘shake up’ government in reforms

VICE President Saulos Chilima yesterday announced that President Peter Mutharika has extended the mandate of the Public Service Sector Reform Commission and outlined drastic changes that it is set to carry out in the extra year that it has been given to operate.

“President Mutharika has agreed to extend the commission’s mandate until June 30, 2016 and in the first part, will complete parastatal engagement,” announced Chilima at his office boardroom in Lilongwe.

He said Mutharika has also approved all the recommendations that they made, including what the Veep called one of the contentious issues, which is the cleaning up exercise of rightsizing government positions.

“We are left right now with the count of 41 principal secretaries… As some of the PSs are retiring we have taken a deliberate decision not to recruit new principal secretaries,” said Chilima. He said some PSs are yet to retire and others have been redeployed.

“I can give you an example if you look to my right is Mr. Bernard Sande who is the PS to the Vice President and Commissioner for Disaster Management before we had two people We have seen that we should merge the two and only have one individual so that we enrich the jobs and also make sure that people are employed full-time.

They must not come here and think that they are working part-time in government and part-time elsewhere,” Chilima said.

He said government is making efforts to right-size the number of principal secretaries and senior government officials through redeployment, combing ministries and by not appointing or promoting officers to principal secretary position.

He said the right-sizing process will continue until the intended reform purpose is achieved. With a strong emphasis of statutory corporations, Chilima announced that in the week beginning 14 September, all parastatals will engage with the commissioners at which point each one of them will be given a list based on the approval of input they gave the commission.

“They are the implementing agencies and they have PROs in the respective organisations they will lead in disseminating information to the public. Once that has been delivered to them, we will avail it to the media so that you know exactly what it is that we have agreed for which organisation,” he said.

Chilima also said that there are a number of parastatal organisationsthat will be put on the raddar forobvious reasons.

The utility companies he mentioned include the water boards, Escom, Admarc saying the bodies will be will treated differently because they need a little bit more care.

“Whereas the rest of the parastatals are also going to be monitored on a regular basis but we thought the utility companies, because of the kind of services they offer, we need to pay a little bit more attention to them,” he said.

Chilima said the exercise will involve 46 parastatals and government organisations which the commission has been meeting between May and June 2015. “These reforms in the parastatals are aimed to bring about professional, effective, efficient parastatal network,” said.

The Veep said the parastatal reforms are in two parts and include cross cutting issues including the relaunching of the statutory corporation policy which should guide how these parastatals operate.

“There are also some recommendations that have been approved including the delays that were happening for instance, you approve a budget for an organisation but when time of procurement comes, there was too much red tape.

The organisation had to send for approval of procurement back to OPC. That we have taken out,” he said.

Chilima said they think that the approval must be granted once after which they must only provide oversight in order to empower the parastatals and ensure that there is speedy delivery of services.

Chilima also said government has turned Green Belt Initiative into a Holding Limited Company in order to foster sustainable large scale irrigation and attract private sector through Joint Ventures and Public Private Partnerships.

“GBI was turned into GBI Holding Limited, through a Trust, and will operate not as a parastatal but will follow the central medical trust model,” he said adding that this initiative is expected to increase agricultural production, enterprise development and exports.

He said under this initiative, GBI will cover crop, livestock and fisheries farming; land administration; agro processing and marketing; irrigation infrastructure development; and promotion of rural growth centers, among others.

“Government is currently negotiating with the European Union to use Euro 100 million (K50 billion) of its Euro 560 million support to Malawi to kick start GBI as a holdings company to ensure maize production all year round,” he said.

Government, he said, will continue to innovate and modernise its payment systems and as part of the modernisation process of the payment system, it has introduced Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) system, which enables government to process payments especially salaries in good time. “This development has led to significant progress in the performance of Ifmis.

Ministries are able to access Ifmis and timely process their transactions. Results of this initiative are reflected in the timely processing of government payments including salaries, especially for teachers, of late,” he said.

He also said government has further incorporated Public Debt, ways and means into Ifmis which will foster timely reconciliations, strengthen accountability and informed planning. “This means that no transactions will be processed outside the Government Account Number 1,” he said.

As one way of trimming the appointing powers of President and facilitating reforms in the November sitting of Parliament, government will be table several bills for enactment. He said these bills including the Communications Bill, Land Bill, Public Service Act amendment Bill, Public Service Remuneration Board Bill, University of Malawi Bill and National Local government Finance Bill.

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