Vice-President Saulos Chilima on Wednesday said government has managed to trim the number of principal secretaries (PSs) from the initial 96 to 41 following the introduction of public service reforms last year.
Presenting a progress report on the reforms to the media in Lilongwe, Chilima, who chairs the Public Service Reforms Commission (PSRC), also said the pioneer ministries are meeting their targets.
On the other hand, he said 46 parastatals that were engaged in the reforms are yet to report back their progress.
Chilima said with the retirement of several PSs, there will be no more hiring for the senior positions as part of streamlining structures in the public service.
Said the Vice-President: “We have done a cleaning -up exercise. We are left now with a count of 41. As some PSs are retiring, we have taken a deliberate position not to recruit any more PSs.”
For example, Chilima said in the Office of the Vice-President, former principal secretary Lucky Sikwese and secretary for Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) Paul Chiunguzeni have been shifted to create one position now taken up by former diplomat Bernard Sande.
When queried on further changes to be expected under the reforms to right-size government positions, Chilima promised the number would continue to go down and that the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) would be announcing the changes through the course of the year.
He could not give a breakdown of PSs who would be retiring or redeployed, but that a criterion in place and funding availability would result in a trimmer and performing public service.
“There is a number of people that have been redeployed and there are others whose contracts are coming to an end. If we terminate someone’s contract today who has one and half years to go and we have to pay him K100 million, people would not be amused at the Chief Secretary,” he explained.
Chilima also stressed that the directive for government officials not to patronise functions which did not concern them would still stand despite resistance.
However, Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa said public service vehicles were still being provided to government officials, including women to go dance at functions patronised by the President, but this would stop gradually.
According to the report which only included ministries and departments whose reporting period had come to end, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development failed to accomplish its planned activities because they were not focused.
The report also gave progress on health reforms under the Ministry of Health, decentralisation of passport printing services to Mzuzu as well as Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) where there were some achievements registered.
In the Ministry of Finance, Chilima reported that results of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) enhancements such as timely funding would be seen end this month and October but the full upgrade would only happen in 2017.
Chilima also disclosed that the Green Belt Initiative would be run as a trust under the name GBI Holding Company to enable it to facilitate acceleration of irrigation programmes with an 11 000 hectares outlook.
President Peter Mutharika launched the public service reforms in February this year to improve efficiency in public service delivery.