BEYOND THE HORIZON: PM Eila Proposed Reform of the Public Sector and Civil Service is an Urgent Need

Alula Berhe

The Corruption Dragon

The Minister of Justice in his presentation of the Emergency Act in the National Assembly has made a statement that has drawn a very clear picture of the dimensions of the catastrophic economic and financial crises in the country at present. He attributed this mainly to the institutional corruption that has spread in the whole institutions of the government and the state.
There are several remarks that have to be made on this important statement.
First, it was a clear public official statement that admits that corruption has become institutionalized and one of the major causes of the present economic and financial catastrophic situation; politically, economically and financially.
The second point stressed on by the minister was that the Emergency Act aim was to fight these crimes and not to suppress the protests or freedom of assembly and expression which are constitutional rights.
In general the statement has drawn a very gloomy picture of the situation. We add that this situation if not addressed urgently and adequately will lead as many have predicated to the collapse of the whole state and more fragmentation of the country and the features of such a development are clearly written in the walls.

The New Government

The official response to these great challenges so far have been beside the Emergency Act, the formation of a new government head by Mohamed Tahir Ela, the former -governor of the Gezira and Red Sea states. Eila performance in the two states was commended by many so let us wait and see how he will address the far greater challenges of the whole country and not just one state.
But so far, the new government has not declared a clear program up to now on how to address the present critical situation, just general statements but there is an urgent need after extensive consultation if possible with a variety of experts to formulate such a program as soon as possible.

The Vision

Such a programme needless to say must be based on the vision that there is an urgent need for fundamental restructure and reform of the civil service and the public sector. It should also include the reform of the banking sector and the activation of the role of Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Sudan is a good first step. But there is need as well to amend the BOS act to separate the functions of the Board Chairman from the bank governor this will give more supervisory power to board in monitoring the bank administration performance.

Civil and Public Sector

Also, the prime minister has started some steps in the journey of the reforms and the first step has been reinstating the role of the ministry under-secretary as the engine of the implementation of the adapted policies. This is very crucial because ministers may come and go for political reasons but the policies should be sustainable and not subject to such changes. This gives credibility to the government as a whole at all levels because one of the complaints of many investors .national and foreign was that there is always a change in the policy with the change of a minister.
An important challenge facing public leaders in the 21 Century is how to incorporate or reinvigorate desirable traditional civil service values, such as impartiality, integrity and dedication to public service, while at the same time promoting management innovations and efficiency improvements as well as encouraging more open and responsive forms of administration.
Strengthening appointment on merit is one of the most powerful, yet simplest, ways in which governments can improve their effectiveness. A merit-oriented and career based civil service is decisive in explaining cross-country differences in the performance of governments in terms of the quality of services and the absence of corruption. The presence of these factors helps to foster organizational standards, behavioural norms and esprit de corps that promote commitment and integrity among public servants.

Performance Management

Governments need to instill greater performance orientation among public servants. This means that performance management, including staff appraisal, must become central to the work of government managers. The managers are responsible for the performance of staff, and it is their job to manage them by setting objectives that relate to the overall goals of the organization, monitoring their performance, and giving them support, feedback and the opportunity to develop. Strengthening performance orientation in the public service also entails giving greater weight to relative efficiency vis-à-vis seniority in decisions on staff promotion in the public service.

Public Sector Leadership

A leadership style based on command and control is no longer suited for effective public sector management. Instead, leaders are increasingly judged by their ability to motivate and bring out the best in staff, by how well they communicate the vision and mission of the organization, and by their effectiveness in building partnerships and collaborating with other organizations. Together, the complexity of challenges in the public sector is requiring new leadership skills of senior civil servants.
Since public sector transformation often involves the reform of values and attitudes of staff, the role of leadership by example is critical. The term “leading by example” indicates the transformational power of leadership when employees follow the example of a leader. An important role of a leader is to champion the shared vision, values, norms and standards of the organization. This will require high-level skills combined with strong commitment and determination on the part of the organizational leadership.

Changing Roles

In this context, the changing role of public administration has been influenced by many factors, including the emergence of new tasks and activities for government, the transformation of many of its traditional functions, and the recent revolution in information and communications technology (ICT) that alone is requiring radical change in work, management, and decision-making processes in all organizations but especially in traditional-style bureaucracies.
Nonetheless, certain challenges stand out as needing immediate attention lest all other efforts fail to realize their potential. Among these for public administrators everywhere, in both developed and less developed countries, are coping with globalization, restoring the capacity to govern, furthering democratization, adapting to the knowledge society, and attracting talent into public service. Essential to the capacity of governments to respond to these critical challenges effectively will be renewed focus on the management of human resources, the lifeblood of the public service, including the development of strong leadership capacities.

Conceptual Anchor

All talks about reforms must be with a clear vision of what are these reform in a package and what is the ultimate destination of these reforms. Otherwise such talks will just be more rhetoric that will lead to nowhere and don’t address the chronic crises engulfing the country.
Some scholars have written in this context that it is generally acknowledged that the process of building nations is time consuming and is non-liner, subject as it is to twists and turns. As a result, building institutions for sustainable political transformation could help during a transition phase, and is tantamount for all intents and purposes, to building a Sudanese nation anew. Recent scholarship, basing itself on a very long history of human societies, suggests that in the context of developing countries, such a process involve change in three types of super structural institutions; the state itself which concentrate and deploys power to enforce the rules across its territory, the rule of law, which limits governments’ ability to make arbitrary decisions; and mechanisms of democratic accountability, which ensure that governments reflects the will of the people. These overarching institutions define a modern state as distinct from a neo-patrimonial state.
Given the centrality of the supper-structural institutions; it is widely agreed that, from a long run perspective ,achieving development depends crucially on the nature of political institutions that a society agree upon to regulate the interactive relations between the individuals in all walks of life. For developing countries, an acceptable and broad definition of institutions is that they are “a set of humanely devised behavioral rules that govern and shape the interaction of human beings, in part by helping them to form expectations of what other people will do”. Political institutions, it is suggested, could be classified into two types; inclusive political institutions and exclusive ones. Over the long sweep of history there is evidence to suggest that inclusive political institutions give rise to efficient economic institutions that eventually achieve economic and social development and economic prosperity. Exclusive political institutions, on the other hand, give birth to extractive economic institutions that eventually fail to achieve development. The current ruling regime provides an excellent example of an exclusive political regime which gave rise to a predatory economic system.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *