The Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, is serious about cutting costs in the public service to save money for the country.
During a recent interview with the Weekend Observer, he confirmed that one of these cost-cutting measures included curbing the abuse of government vehicles.
He has done this by changing policies in relation to vehicles Chief Executive Officers were entitled to.
“We’ve put into place, you know the change from four wheel drives for use by C.E.O.s to S.U.V.s,” he said.
“So if you have a new C.E.O. you have to replace that vehicle.”
And that is an on-going procedure, said the Minister.
On top of that, they are willing to invest in the services of Sky eye which offers services in new tracking technology.
The plan is to utilise this service to track the use of all the public sector vehicles.
He said taking this measure into account would make the C.E.O.s more accountable.
“They need to take some sort of responsibility for that,” he said of the C.E.O.’s.
It is also cost effective he noted saying this is why the private sector makes good use of such technology.
But he’s not stopping there.
The Minister also made reference to the last budget statement where they committed themselves as a government to review the Public Service structure.
“There’s so many concerns and complaints from the general public about the poor service and the poor quality of the service, because of the red tape and bureaucracy in the government,” said Sili.
“I see that every day. We are very committed to reforming the public sector.”
He spoke about a forum where all the C.E.O.s of Public Service and Corporations attended.
“We made it quite clear, and the P.M. was there, that we need to reform the Public Service and streamline operations.
“We need to review the mandates of some of the ministries; we need to look at all of the government agenda not just individual ministries.”
Sili pointed out there were some cases where government wasn’t making cost effective cuts but quite the opposite.
“Instead of downsizing we seem to have increased the numbers in the ministries. The sort of work that used to be done by 10 people, we now need the whole ministry to do it.”
He admitted there were areas in government in need of reviewing and streamlining.
“We need to ask hard questions, do we need it, can we do things better, so there will be several sorts of ongoing reviews of those structures.”
He also confirmed, “We will shortly be doing the review of health sector for example, there are sort of discussions, but to the keeping (of) the NHS and the Ministry of Health separate, do we need to do it”.
Sili said the review has to be done properly to ensure that if it’s not working what are the reasons and new found ways to tackle the issue to make it work.
“Then maybe sort of bringing (it) in all together, but we need to have that review too, there’s an ongoing work’ that been done to ensure that the same old enterprises become more efficient.”
But despite the magnitude of the work required to get this kind of project off the ground Sili is optimistic.
He also mentioned a possible review even for the Public Service Commission.
“I think it’s exciting sort (of) reform (but it) takes time, it’s a process , it’s not an event, we need to keep working with people, so we are looking at that forum, to look at what exactly is the role of the public service commission, will it continue as it is, or do we now looking sort of devolving responsibility to the C.E.O.’s, and how do we empower the them to be innovators, to be leaders and not be administrators and how they can be accountable for the delivery of services.”
He said the main idea behind the reviews “ trying to make the public sector a lot more efficient”.
Efficient meaning “to be open to our people, to connect with our people, to go out, to learn from our people what they want for us to come and so, rather than saying that this is what you want, and we are still very much committed to that, we maybe announcing some of those ongoing reforms in the budget”.
In the meantime however “we are having discussions with ministries at how best we should do this”.