Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is also Minister for Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, will today embark on a week-long engagement with heads of parastatals, local councils and the private sector on the implementation of public sector reforms.
A statement issued yesterday and signed by spokesperson in Office of the Vice-President, Pilirani Phiri, states that the engagements will be held across all three regions in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
Reads the statement in part: “The meetings will review and agree on new areas of reforms and take stock of the impact of service delivery, efficiency and effectiveness that the reforms have had so far. These include organisation health checks such as profitability or loss.”
According to the meeting schedule, Chilima will today meet chief executive officers (CEOs) and directors of finance from the Central Region.
On Thursday, the Veep is expected to meet CEOs for Blantyre and Zomba city councils at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre while on Friday, he is scheduled to meet CEOs from the private sector.
Chilima—who before joining frontline politics in 2014 worked as the first Malawian managing director for multinational Airtel Malawi—will then meet directors of finance from the Northern Region, including Mzuzu City Council CEO, on Monday.
In an interview yesterday, governance expert Augustine Magolowondo said public sector reforms are the most crucial reforms to be undertaken if socioeconomic and political transformation is to be achieved in the country.
He said for the public sector reforms to be achieved there is need for a change of mindset for those working in parastatals.
Said Magolowondo: “The initiative that the Vice-President is embarking on is crucial as it will give an impetus to what otherwise might have been forgotten in terms of reforms.
“He must work on changing and revolutionalising the people because it’s not just about the policies and legal frameworks in place but the people who are in place matter in terms of their attitude, mindset and their capacities”.
The 2020 Annual Economic Report states that on average, statutory bodies generated less than half of the projected revenues as at mid-year.
In terms of investments, most of the capital expenditure budget was not utilised due to cash flow challenges.
Liquidity positions for most parastatals worsened due to buildup of trade debtors and this resulted in the erosion of their working capital and the situation was mostly prevalent among the water boards and other trading parastatals.
As a result, most parastatals resorted to obtaining bank overdrafts to cushion their cash flows while others resorted to deferring payment of tax obligations, pensions and other trade payables.
Chilima is serving a second term as Vice-President, having been in the same position under the erstwhile governing Democratic Progressive Party leader Peter Mutharika. Before falling out with Mutharika, the Vice-President was also in charge of the Public Sector Reforms Programme during which he introduced reforms that were lauded by critics for being effective. Later, Mutharika directed that the reforms be handled by Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
Additional reporting by STEVE Chilundu