I am greatly honoured this morning to preside over the official opening of this Sectoral Conference on the Implementation of Public Sector Reforms.
The Reforms journey, although long, continues in earnest. It began on 11th February, 2015, when His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi launched the Public Service Reforms Agenda. The reforms are aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Public Service in order to ensure that, as Government, we are able to provide quality public services to the citizens of this country.
Through the Reforms Agenda, it is our hope that all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies will undertake reform activities towards this goal. It is therefore, pertinent that these efforts should be carried out in a well-coordinated manner to ensure that our meagre resources, in terms of time, finances and human, are efficiently channeled towards our national priorities in accordance with our National Development Plans.
Allow me at the onset to commend all MDAs on the progress that is being steadily made in the different sectors in the implementation of reform activities. It is pleasing to note that the reforms have been very well embraced by the entire Public Service and now we can see that no one wants to be left behind. At the launch of the Reforms Agenda, we started with seven (7) pioneer ministries and one (1) department who signed Performance Contracts with His Excellency the President as commitment to deliver on their planned reform activities.
Consequently by December 2016, reforms for all remaining ministries except two were approved and Performance Contracts also signed. In addition, all parastatal Organisations have had their reform areas approved and commenced implementation in October, 2015. Councils too have not been left behind on this journey and as I speak, thirty five (35) district, town, municipal and city councils are in the process of implementing their own approved activities.
The aim of the Reforms Agenda is not to merely draw up a list of activities and submit them for approval, rather it is to ensure that the activities that we undertake should bring about positive change in the way we conduct business, thereby improving the benefits to our people. The Agenda calls for “business unusual” and the need to graduate from dependence on government subvention and to become financially independent. We need to recognize that the current financial pressure that MDAs are exerting on the national budget can be eased significantly if we are become more vigilant and innovative in identifying new revenue sources and investment opportunities. In addition, reform activities will be more efficiently implemented if our efforts are made in a coordinated manner to ensure that we maximize on the synergies that exist within our different sectors.
It is from this background that as the journey continues, we have identified the need to synchronize our efforts so that we should remove duplications in our work. We should also be able to tap into one another’s’ progress in order to enhance our own respective experiences within our Organisations in the implementation of reform activities. This specific conference will therefore, provide that forum for MDAs to share experiences and devise ways on how to improve coordination and engagement among related institutions.
The main objective of this Sectoral Conference is to come together in a sectoral approach and thrash out issues that are either enhancing or affecting progress within the individual sectors in a collective manner. In this way, we will also be able to identify bottlenecks and challenges and try to find ways to overcome them.
The conference will track and appreciate the progress that has been made in the different institutions within specific sectors and update one another on the benefits that have been derived from reform activities. We will also be looking at the challenges which may be crosscutting along respective sectors, and brainstorm on how we can collectively overcome them. The Conference will also seek to share best practices between institutions within the sectors as well as those within the region and globally. It is expected that at the end of this Conference, we will come up with concrete recommendations to address the challenges which will be uncovered and which will guide future interventions in the Reforms Agenda.
Time has come for each one of us to take individual responsibility for the plight of our country and to acknowledge that change comes within oneself. As the popular saying goes, “Charity begins at home”, the Public Sector remains the key to national transformation and is a pre-requisite to realizing our national
Development goals. We need to understand that we will not make much progress in developing our country if we continue to conduct business as usual. Change needs to happen and it needs to happen NOW!
You will note from the programme that all critical sectors will be involved in the discussion. This will ensure that we give special consideration for institutions to exhaustively brainstorm on issues that affect each individual sector. We therefore, have the following sectors:
- Education and skills development,
- Agriculture and water,
- Transport and infrastructure,
- Industry, trade and tourism,
- Social and culture, and
- Information, communication, technology.
We believe that based on our national priorities, as well as the newly developed Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (i.e. the National Development Plan), these are the sectors that will transform our country into an economically sound and independent nation.
I have the strongest conviction that all of us in here, understand the importance of the Public Service Reforms Agenda and therefore, the need to undertake such an exercise with utmost importance and priority. I have the hope that the outcome of this conference will add great value to the process of the reforms that is already underway and that it will further bring to light issues that need to be addressed, in order for this process to be meaningful. As Public Servants, you have all been entrusted with a responsibility to perform a noble duty for the betterment of the lives of our fellow citizens. The Reforms will only be meaningful if the benefits of it all are visible and felt at the grass-root level.
Dare to be different, dare to dream and have a vision of a better Malawi; an economically strong nation with a clear vision and a strong, ethical and responsive public service. All this is possible and it starts with all of us in here. Let us take charge of our destiny and make Malawi a better country for generations to come. I wish you all fruitful deliberations.
Thank you for your attention!