Plan to modernize public sector falls short of objectives — experts

Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — An increasing number of former ministers and senior government employees have come out to criticize what has leaked, so far, of the work of the intergovernmental committee responsible for presenting recommendations on modernizing the public sector. اضافة اعلان

The government is yet to set a date for the unveiling of the full plan. Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh said on Tuesday that “the public sector development plan is not a holy book, and is subject to correction and amendment”.

Khasawneh, who was speaking at the Ideal Employee Award ceremony, added that the government is aware of the criticism of the public sector modernization plan, adding that the merger of some ministries will take from two to four years.

The prime minister indicated that the plan is bound to boost and keep pace with the change in government management methods, which will reflect on its performance and the level of services provided to citizens.

Khasawneh’s remarks, however, may not end the public uproar over some suggestions, like the abolishment of the Ministry of Labor, while keeping most independent commissions, which number over 50, intact.

Former head of the Civil Service Bureau Mazen Al-Nasser said that the modernization of the public sector is based on the premise that Jordan is a state of laws and institutions, but leaks regarding the committee’s work are inconsistent with that premise and does not serve the public work.

Speaking on Sunday at a seminar organized by the Jordanian Society for Science and Culture, Nasser said that it is difficult to see a connection between the goals of the plan and ways to implement them.

Speaking at the same event, Abdullah Elayan, former head of the Civil Service Bureau, said that the output of the plan is not consistent with the initial objectives, adding that the plan will not see the light of day because those who prepared it have nothing to do with public work and their experience in government departments is almost non-existent.

Former deputy prime minister Jawad Anani told Jordan News that the priorities of the road map should be to facilitate and clarify procedures, and establish guidelines that identify issues related to laws and transactions, among others.

In addition, employees need to be trained before being appointed, Anani said, adding that they must pass a civil service exam that tests their knowledge of laws and regulations and laws related to their work.

At the same time, he said, there is need to instill and deepen the concept of serving citizens, and to do away with bureaucratic procedures.

Anani added that merging or abolishing ministries is a measure that could have waited, since it is not a top priority, while easing investment procedures is.

Radi Al-Atoum, former director-general of the Institute of Public Administration, told Jordan News said that the proposed roadmap for administrative reform has lost its bearings and has little to do with modernizing the public sector.

He added that there should be a special focus on human resources, and an adequate budget to develop them.

Atoum called for strict oversight and accountability at all levels while implementing good governance programs already approved by the government.

He added that some officials involved in developing the public sector lack awareness, while those who are aware of the present confusion, prefer to remain silent.

Former minister of public sector development Maher Madadha told Jordan News that that the government’s effort to develop the public sector complement previous efforts, stressing that the programs and objectives presented in the proposed plan need to be reviewed and evaluated during the implementation process.

Madadha added that the blueprint of the modernization plan should be flexible, allowing for adjustments based on studies and consultations with experts and professionals in the field. Public sector reform requires constant review of the budget, reduction of public sector expenditures, and involving the private sector, he said.

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