There is marked progress in the Public Service Reforms Programme following the tabling of 14 bills out of 34 laws, among them land bills, which threatened to derail implementation of the initiative.
The bills, meant to facilitate smooth implementation of the reforms that require amending the law, are contained in a report the Public Service Reforms Commission produced and was launched by President Peter Mutharika on February 11 2015.
The report lined up 34 bills of which 14 have been tabled, three passed while the rest are at advanced stages.
About 18 months since the reforms agenda was launched, four land bills have been tabled in Parliament, among them Land Principle Bill, Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, Physical Planning Bill and Land Survey Bill.
About six other bills have been gazetted and appear on the Order Paper of the Budget Meeting of Parliament ready to be tabled in Parliament. These include Customary Land Bill, Registered Land (Amendment) Bill, Forestry (Amendment) Bill, Malawi Housing Corporation (Amendment) Bill and Public Roads (Amendment) Bill.
The land bills are aligned to the reforms on creating a conducive investment environment in Malawi and will enable smoother acquisition and management of land for investors.
Once the bills are passed, non-citizens in Malawi would only be allocated freehold land lease for investment purposes and in accordance with the Investment and Promotions Act.
“Some of the reforms that require such legislations to be implemented include creation of electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies from current Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi [Escom], improvement of ICT governance and creation of the Mines and Minerals Board/Committee and the Chamber of Mines. This cements the political will from the Mutharika government that it is serious with its reforms agenda,” Constance Kilimo, public relations officer for Public Sector Reforms Management Unit (PSRMU), said on Friday.
She added that amended legislations such as Public Service Act and Malawi Public Service Regulations will address current challenges in how public servants are recruited, promoted, rewarded, trained, compensated or disciplined.
Kilimo emphasised, for example, that there is a need for clarification of the role of chiefs in fostering sustainable development at grass roots level as such the 1967 Chiefs Act is undergoing review and a draft bill has been submitted to Cabinet.
On unbundling of Escom, the long awaited Electricity (Amendment) Bill of 2016 to increase power generation through involvement of private companies in electricity generation and creation of a single buyer of electricity whose function will be to buy electricity from private generation companies is expected to be tabled next week.
The review of the Public Service Regulations has been submitted to Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) for approval in addition to the review of the Public Service Remuneration Bill which the civil service unions have been crying for to establish a legal mandate for aligning salaries in the mainstream civil service and other government bodies such as Parliament and Judiciary.
The government has also tabled the Payment Systems (Digitalisation) Bill which aims to make funding and payment systems effective to reduce delays in funding to ministries and departments.
According to PSRMU, the Budget and Finance Committee is expected to present a report for plenary debate in the current meeting of Parliament.