Inadequate funding continues to choke progress of the Public Sector Reforms Programme expected to change the structures and processes of the public service for improved service delivery, a new report shows.
In the 2020-2023 Public Sector Reforms Progress Programme Report, the Public Sector Reforms Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet has since recommended that the government should establish a reforms basket fund.
The fund is anticipated to help finance strategic reforms critical to improving service delivery, a recommendation in the report which civil society organisations (CSOs) and governance commentators agree to.
Reads part of the report: “Government should allocate adequate resources towards the implementation of the reform programme and its projects.
“Reforms should be included and prioritised in the organisational budgets and budget formulation process of MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] to ensure adequate resources are allocated towards implementation of the reforms.”
The report states that due to inadequate funding towards the reforms, projects continue to miss their timelines as well as implementation of planned activities.
Compounding the matter further, according to the report, is the resistance to change and unwillingness to participate in reform activities by some public officers and other stakeholders due to perceived loss of personal benefits or perceived competition.
This is apart from lack of adequate capacity, especially of professional staff as a result of a high vacancy rate in some MDAs and local councils which has been affecting implementation of certain operations in line with the reforms.
The report also notes that there has been a limited monitoring and evaluation framework to measure success of the reforms programme at all levels and has recommended strengthening of reporting, monitoring and evaluation.
It also recommends a comprehensive impact evaluation of the reforms programme to provide a useful input in the design of a robust reforms programme aligned to the country’s long-term development strategy, Malawi 2063 (MW2063).
Meanwhile, CSOs and governance commentators have stressed the need for the government to ensure there is adequate funding to ensure success of the reforms and act on those who are resisting to embrace the reforms.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence in an interview yesterday said there is need for political will, especially on the part of financing, to ensure success of the reforms.
Similarly, governance commentator Mavuto Bamusi in a separate interview said success in implementation of the reforms is dependent on certain key conditions.
Among others, he singled out radical shift in national spending priorities where resource allocation should concentrate on game changing actions such as recruitment of professionals based on meritocracy.
But Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency executive director Willy Kambwandira yesterday argued that implementation of the reforms programme lacks transparency and accountability.
He said: “There is also selective picking of recommendations for implementation as such some public officers feel targeted. In short, the whole process of implementing the public sector reforms lacks transparency and accountability.”
Meanwhile, a reforms report by a task force chaired by Vice-President Saulos Chilima and delivered to President Lazarus Chakwera with recommendations on review of systems in the public sector is yet to be made public two years later.
The President has since told his critics the report is not for public consumption.