Pioneer ministries, departments and statutory corporations selected to pioneer Public Service Reforms have scored a mixed rating during the second quarter of implementation, a progress report has shown.
The report, which The Nation has seen, shows that while there is notable progress and results in some ministries, the general picture is that many reform areas—mostly those in which stakeholders showed interests during the consultation stage—are still at the ‘process level’.
The star performer of the second quarter, according to the report, has been the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, notably the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) with its introduction of the Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis).
States the report: “Through Maltis, government has seen revenue collection improving tremendously as all vehicles now go through the system and all revenue goes to government.
“That had enabled the department to be weaned from government subvention and at the same time remitting 15 percent of the collections to Treasury to facilitate financing of other programmes.”
Besides Maltis, the report paints a rosy picture on how the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security has fared, especially in its Department of Immigration and the National Registration Bureau (NRB).
The report shows that four reforms areas at the Immigration Department—decentralisation of passport printing services to Mzuzu, rolling out passport services in Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) outlets, online visa application and computerisation of the permit processing system—as a success.
But, while the report paints the Immigration Department rosy, NRB has only managed to have notable progress in the registration of births as the reform has been kick-started in all health facilities in Chitipa, Ntcheu and Blantyre.
According to the report, on production and issuance of identity cards, the planned activities were to engage a contractor to assist NRB procure equipment, register Malawians and issue national IDs; establish the National Identity Card production centre; and to undertake production of National Identity Cards.
However, the progress that was made in the second quarter of the reforms implementation with financial assistance from Norway and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was to identify an expert on National Registration and Identification System from South Africa to provide technical assistance.
However, despite such notable strides, the report is hazy in some reform areas, among others, progress on the Green Belt Initiative (GBI), re-enforcement of meritorious appointment, performance of parastatals and public finance management.
Despite being a regular topic of discussion, in the second quarter, according to the report, the GBI, which is being turned into GBI Holdings Limited, the report only managed to develop the ‘Trust Deed, Terms of Reference and conditions of service for the proposed GBI team’.
Further, despite most stakeholders, during the consultative meetings last year, voicing for the need to reduce presidential power, especially in appointing senior government officials, the second quarter report shows that there is little ground covered.
But in a telephone interview yesterday, Lewis Dzimbiri, a professor of public administration specialising in industrial relations and human resource management at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, said the public should not expect all reforms to move at the same pace.
He said there needs to be an expectation that certain things are straightforward while others might require heavy investment.
In his opening remarks in the report, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who chairs the Public Service Reforms Commission, said a number of factors contributed to improved progress in the second quarter compared to the first quarter.
The factors included allocation of funds, increased acceptance in public service that reforms are working and increasing understanding of reform intent and spirit in public service and general population.
President Peter Mutharika’s administration launched the public service reforms in a bid to improve service delivery and efficiency in public institutions.