Malawi is spending over K1 billion per year to pay salaries of 96 principal secretaries (PSs) it has on its payroll, the Weekend Nation can reveal.
According to the figures that we have verified with Treasury at Capital Hill, the total wage bill for the principal secretaries in 12 months after the October 2014 salary review comes to K1 247 621 760. 00
This means the monthly wage bill for 96 principal secretaries currently stands at K103 968 480 as a PS gets a monthly salary of K1 083 005.
Should government proceed to implement the recommendation of the Malawi Public Service Reforms Commission (MPSRC) to trim the number of principal secretaries by 56, it will save about K728 million in a year.
It means the monthly wage bill will be eased by K60 648 280.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who chairs MPSRC, explained that the recent reduction of government ministries to 20 has created redundancies for some principal secretaries.
“Their number exceeds the current number of ministries and the need for their services.
“There is need for an exercise to match the number of principal secretaries and existing ministries, based on needs in the current number of ministries,” said Chilima.
He explained that the trimming exercise should be done through a transparent and consultative process to ensure fairness and credibility.
“This exercise will be done by deleting irrelevant portfolios, deploying some PSs and exiting those that may not be required within the system. A decent one-off exit package will be offered,” he said.
He added that for the entire civil service, government will have to look at the total structure and delete irrelevant positions to come up with a lean and vibrant organisation.
“It means there will be need to put a freeze on external hire to allow for re-deployment in the first phase in order to ensure best fit within the system,” he said.
President Peter Mutharika appointed the commission to provide strategic leadership in the implementation of Public Service Reforms to improve service delivery in Malawi.
Chilima told the Weekend Nation last week that the reforms which his commission is spearheading have so far created notable changes in the public service, which are a precursor to a wide-ranging shake up of things.
He explained that such reforms will be characterised by hard choices and difficult decisions if public service delivery is to improve.
“We believe it will be appreciated that these reforms are not multiple choice. They just have to be done. Not doing them is not an option,” said Chilima who chairs the eight-member commission President Mutharika appointed recently.
He added: “The effectiveness and efficiency of a country’s public sector is vital to the success of development activities. This is because the public sector is the largest spender and employer and it sets the policy environment for the rest of the economy.”