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Malawi

Public Services (MW0004)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Malawi National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Public Sector Reforms Unit in the Office of the Vice President

Support Institution(s): Office of the President and Cabinet, Public Sector Reforms Department, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development –(MOLGRD), Ministry of Information-(MOI), Malawi Revenue Authority-(MRA), and Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Education, the Director of Public Safety and Road Traffic and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Department of Statutory Corporations and various ministries, departments and agencies of government Council for Non-Governmental Organizations of Malawi-(CONGOMA),, Malawi Confederation of Commerce and Industry –(MCCI), Economic Association of Malawi

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Malawi End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Malawi Progress Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Not Relevant

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo: Public sector reforms have been an on -going process since independence. However they have generated mixed performance characterized by inadequate and low quality of public services, a deterioration of work ethics, indiscipline and absenteeism, and a proliferation of fraud and corruption due to, among other things, lack of political will, insufficient resources, absence of a robust results oriented performance management system for individuals and public agencies, weak incentives to reward productivity and low remuneration. Consequently, the citizenry has lost trust and confidence in the government’s delivery of public service. Public service has turned out to be a favor that Malawians have to seek in hospitals, road traffic, immigration department and various public services.

Main objective: To provide adequate and high quality services to the public at all times

Brief description: An efficient and effective public sector is a bedrock for sustainable development. A robust public service provides a sufficient capacity necessary to retain a competent workforce and achieve national development outcomes. This commitment enjoins government and all stakeholders to pursue and implement concrete and results oriented reforms that will revitalize the public service delivery machinery, process and systems. Specifically, improvements of the public sector delivery will be underpinned by the broader public reforms currently being championed by the Office of the Vice President through the Public Service Sector Reform Commission. These reforms seek to generate improvements through:- depoliticizing the public service, entrenching ethics, integrity and discipline, systematic development of human resource, harmonizing remuneration and conditions of service, rightsizing, harmonizing human resource management systems, effective implementation of performance management systems, establishing efficient and effective funding and payment systems, decentralizing service delivery, fostering efficient utilization of public resources, adopting technological innovations that improve efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery and undertaking public service legal reforms.

Challenges: Improving efficiency and effectiveness of quality public services is essential in sustainable economic development of Malawi.

Intended results: Actions on this commitment will ensure that government is more responsive to citizen’s needs by prioritizing equitable and increased access to public services required to improve and sustain a decent livelihood for the majority of ordinary people in their communities. It is therefore expected that the effective implementation of public sector reforms will enable the Government to meet high expectation and demands of the public, transform the work culture of the public service, promote ethics and integrity in the public service, promote transparency and accountability and ensure prudent management of public resources.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Public Sector Reforms and Public Service Delivery

Commitment Text:

An efficient and effective public sector is a bedrock for sustainable development. A robust public service provides a sufficient capacity necessary to retain a competent workforce and achieve national development outcomes.

This commitment enjoins government and all stakeholders to pursue and implement concrete and results oriented reforms that will revitalize the public service delivery machinery, process and systems. Specifically, improvements of the public sector delivery will be underpinned by the broader public reforms currently being championed by the Office of the Vice President through the Public Service Sector Reform Commission. These reforms seek to generate improvements through:- depoliticizing the public service, entrenching ethics, integrity and discipline, systematic development of human resource, harmonizing remuneration and conditions of service, rightsizing, harmonizing human resource management systems, effective implementation of performance management systems, establishing efficient and effective funding and payment systems, decentralizing service delivery, fostering efficient utilization of public resources, adopting technological innovations that improve efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery and undertaking public service legal reforms.

Milestones:

4.1. Annual budget allocation for public services matched with funding needs

4.2. Government maintains adequate funding to key public services

4.3. Proportion of the public expressing satisfaction with public service delivery

Responsible institution: Public Sector Reforms Unit in the Office of the Vice President

Supporting institutions: Office of the President and Cabinet, Public Sector Reforms Department, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MOLGRD), Ministry of Information (MOI), Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education, the Director of Public Safety and Road Traffic, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Department of Statutory Corporations and various ministries, departments and agencies of government, Council for Non-Governmental Organizations of Malawi (CONGOMA), Malawi Confederation of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Economic Association of Malawi

Start date: Not specified

End date: Not specified

Context and Objectives

Malawi’s economic difficulties have led to the inconsistent provision and underfunding of public services. For example, shortages of medicine and doctors mean that healthcare facilities are often inadequately equipped to adequately service the public.[69] The country’s rapid population growth rate has placed additional pressures on public services due to increased demand.[70] President Arthur Mutharika launched a public sector reform agenda in 2015, which included the establishment of a Public Service Reforms Commission to investigate the deficiencies in the provision of public service, and to provide recommendations on how to improve it.[71] The Commission published its final report and recommendations in February 2015.[72]

This commitment aims to improve Malawi’s public service through the implementation of the Public Service Sector Reform Commission. More specifically, it calls for the annual allocation of funds to public services based on needs, and increasing public satisfaction with public service delivery. Increasing public satisfaction with service delivery is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation. However, the commitment does not clarify how the level of public satisfaction will be determined. Therefore, the specificity is low. The commitment only vaguely implies public input for the Public Service Reform. However, without consultation with stakeholders or the public, it is unclear how the planned reforms will be implemented based on public needs, or how the public will be able to provide feedback on the reform efforts. Therefore, the potential impact is marked as minor.

Completions

The Commission’s official mandate expired in January 2017, after which responsibility for implementing the reforms was moved to the Office of the President and Cabinet’s Public Sector Reforms Unit.[73] Citing the Commission’s exit report, the Malawian news outlet The Nation reported in March 2017 significant challenges and delays in implementing the reforms, notably that “inadequate financial resources hindered progress and achievement of tangible results in some of the sectors involved.”[74] Due to the absence of further information and the vagueness of the milestones, the level of completion is considered to be “not started” and not on schedule.

Next Steps

Malawi’s third Growth and Development Strategy for 2017-22 indicates that the government will continue to pursue the public sector reform agenda over the next five years.[75] In addition to increasing the level of satisfaction of public service users, the Malawi Public Service Charter calls for the establishment of “a framework for consultations with service users and assist these public institutions manage the expectations of service users.”[76] Future action plans that focus on public service reforms should include opportunities for public consultations to ensure reforms are based on stakeholder priorities.

[69] Mussa, Richard & Masanjala, Winford Henderson, Oxfam, “A Dangerous Divide: The State of Inequality in Malawi”, Pg. 13, https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/rr-inequality-in-malawi-261115-en.pdf.

[71] Kamakanda, Gladys, “APM launches public service reforms agenda, unveils report”, Malawi News Agency, 13 February 2015, http://www.manaonline.gov.mw/index.php/national/general/item/1963-apm-launches-public-service-reforms-agenda-unveils-report.

[73] “Malawi govt announces public service reforms commission mandate expires Jan 31, 2017”, The Maravi Post, 7 January 2017, http://www.maravipost.com/malawi-govt-announces-public-service-reforms-commission-mandate-expires-jan-31-2017/.

[74] Chikoko, Rex, “Gloomy picture for public reforms”, The Nation, 2 March 2017, http://mwnation.com/gloomy-picture-for-public-reforms/.

[75] The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III (2017-2022): Building a Productive, Competitive and Resilient Nation, November 2017, Pg. 22, https://mininginmalawi.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/malawi-growth-and-development-strategy-iii-2017-2022.pdf. 

[76] Malawi Public Service Charter: Raising the Bar of Excellence, Pg. 3, http://workspace.unpan.org/sites/internet/Documents/UNPAN039481.pdf.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

4. Public Sector Reforms and Public Service Delivery

Commitment Text:

An efficient and effective public sector is a bedrock for sustainable development. A robust public service provides a sufficient capacity necessary to retain a competent workforce and achieve national development outcomes.

This commitment enjoins government and all stakeholders to pursue and implement concrete and results oriented reforms that will revitalize the public service delivery machinery, process and systems. Specifically, improvements of the public sector delivery will be underpinned by the broader public reforms currently being championed by the Office of the Vice President through the Public Service Sector Reform Commission. These reforms seek to generate improvements through:- depoliticizing the public service, entrenching ethics, integrity and discipline, systematic development of human resource, harmonizing remuneration and conditions of service, rightsizing, harmonizing human resource management systems, effective implementation of performance management systems, establishing efficient and effective funding and payment systems, decentralizing service delivery, fostering efficient utilization of public resources, adopting technological innovations that improve efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery and undertaking public service legal reforms.

Milestones:

4.1. Annual budget allocation for public services matched with funding needs

4.2. Government maintains adequate funding to key public services

4.3. Proportion of the public expressing satisfaction with public service delivery

Responsible institution: Public Sector Reforms Unit in the Office of the Vice President

Supporting institutions: Office of the President and Cabinet, Public Sector Reforms Department, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MOLGRD), Ministry of Information (MOI), Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education, the Director of Public Safety and Road Traffic, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Department of Statutory Corporations and various ministries, departments and agencies of government, Council for Non-Governmental Organizations of Malawi (CONGOMA), Malawi Confederation of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Economic Association of Malawi

Start date: Not specified

End date: Not specified

Commitment Aim

The commitment aimed to improve Malawi’s public service through implementation of the Public Service Sector Reform Commission. It calls for the annual allocation of funds to public services based on needs, and increasing public satisfaction with public service delivery. However, the commitment failed to clarify how to determine the level of public satisfaction. The commitment milestones also did not clearly explain how the government would collect or incorporate public input for the reform.

Status

Midterm: Not Started

Due to the absence of information and the vagueness of the milestones, the level of completion was considered not started at the midterm. There were several challenges in the institutional arrangement as it was initially under the Vice President’s Office. By 2017, the Vice President’s working relationship with the President had started to sour During one of the mass rallies the President ignored the Vice President and invited other Ministers to talk about the performance of the Commission, while the Vice President was still Chair of the Commission, and present at that rally, https://www.nyasatimes.com/mind-gap-malawi-president-vp-sour-relationship-mutharikas-vice-presidency-poisoned-chalice/ and the Public Sector Reforms Unit started facing financial problems. The Unit was consequently moved to the Office of President and the Cabinet in January 2017, following the expiration of the Commission’s mandate, but without a clear budget line as suggested in the Commission’s final report. Public Service Reforms Commission: Making Malawi Work, https://info.undp.org/docs/pdc/Documents/MWI/Malawi%20Public%20Service%20Reform%20Report(1)%20(2).pdf

End of term: Not Started

As there were no consultations after the midterm, the level of implementation did not change and the increased financial challenges for the Unit meant few tangible results. The final report of the Commission recommended a fully-fledged secretariat with technical staff to oversee proper implementation, “to assume the role of monitoring and coordinating the reforms undertaken, in an effort to accelerate the effective delivery of public services and to ensure continuity”. Ibid, page 37 However, the move from the Vice President’s Office to the Office of the President saw few senior positions created. The improved service delivery will take time to start being appreciated by the public, as the final report clearly indicated that improvement in public service requires a long-term commitment by the government. Ibid.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

Public Accountability: Did Not Change

Due to lack of implementation, this commitment did not lead to changes in government practice. In general, Malawi’s public service sector has suffered from a deterioration of work ethics, indiscipline and absenteeism, and a proliferation of fraud and corruption. Ibid. The Public Service Reform Commission’s 2015 report blamed a lack of political will, insufficient resources, absence of a robust results-oriented performance management system for individuals and public agencies, weak incentives to reward productivity and low remuneration. Ibid. pages xiv, 2, 14

While this is important in improving efficiency and effectiveness, the action plan was not clear on the OGP relevance in measuring the milestones. The commitment’s milestones were based on funding, implying that the country has to generate enough resources to see any improvement in the public sector, as well as opening up public service. However, the country’s revenue has deteriorated significantly during the past three years. The 2017/18 revenue only increased by 12 percent compared to 2016/17, that is, from MWK 971bn to MWK 1,096bn. Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Draft 2017-2018 Financial Statement, http://www.finance.gov.mw/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=306&Itemid=107

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report, the development of the next action plan had not started. Considering that public service reform is included in Malawi’s third Growth and Development Strategy for 2017-22, The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III (2017-2022): Building a Productive, Competitive and Resilient Nation, November 2017, page 22, https://mininginmalawi.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/malawi-growth-and-development-strategy-iii-2017-2022.pdf. the IRM researcher recommends carrying it forward, and including opportunities for service users and stakeholders to participate in the management and delivery of public services.