President Peter Mutharika has asked critics of the Public Service Reform Programme (PSRP) to be patient as the process has shown that there is remarkable progress.
Mutharika made the appeal in Lilongwe on Tuesday at the signing ceremony of performance contracts for the ministries of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; Industry and Trade, Justice and Constitutional Affairs as well as Sports and Culture.
This means that a total of 12 ministries have now committed to carrying out various reforms in their departments whose implementation will be monitored by the Public Service Reform Commission (PRSC), which Vice-President Saulos Chilima heads. The others entered into the contracts last year.
“There are people [who] say nothing has happened, but reforms are a process. To our critics, whoever they are, be patient with us. Sometimes reforms require resources. Bear with us, don’t be overcritical. Give us time to develop this country,” Mutharika said.
He made the remarks in the face of donor representatives from the United States of America (USA), Britain and the European Union (EU) who have been urging government not to stray from the reforms path.
While committing to supporting the ministries as they try to implement the reforms, Mutharika warned that signing and implementing were too different things, saying what he wants are results as the other ministries have demonstrated.
A recent progress report on how pioneer reform ministries, departments and statutory corporations have performed showed a mixed rating during the second quarter of implementation.
The report showed that while there is notable progress and results in some ministries, the general picture was that many reform areas—mostly those in which stakeholders showed interests during the consultation stage—are still at the ‘process level’.
Yesterday, Mutharika warned that he wants nothing, but results.
“Let me warn you that signing and implementing are two different things. I want results just like the pioneer ministries have demonstrated. Underperformance will not be tolerated,” he said.
However, a quick peep at the reform areas that the four ministries will undertake shows that they are too broad in nature.
For example, the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development is expected to institute policy and legal reforms, administrative and institutional changes while the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been tasked with creating an enabling environment for private sector development and expand the domestic and international market share for Malawian products.
The Ministry of Sports and Culture has been tasked with developing incentives and welfare programme for sports persons to motivate them by, among other things, establishing a Sports Development Fund.
On his part, Chilima, however, said much as reforms could be described as moving at a snail’s pace, there was tangible progress.
He cited as an example the devolution of payroll of teachers from the Ministry of Education headquarters to district councils.
“I would like to assure Malawians that [these reforms] are here to stay. This is not a rehearsal, they are for real and they will be done,” Chilima stressed.
The President is expected to sign contract agreements with the remaining ministries and departments within 30 days.