The Malta Independent 24 July 2016, Sunday

PM expects government departments to start rectifying spending issues highlighted by Auditor-General

Jacob Borg Friday, 29 January 2016, 13:03 Last update: about 7 months ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat today told civil servants that he expects government departments to start rectifying spending mismanagement issues highlighted by the Auditor-General.

"Every year the Auditor-General speaks of the same problems, yet it usually stops there, no action is taken. I expect departments to start compiling a report to say what corrective action is going to be taken in order to rectify the problems highlighted by the Auditor-General each year.

"This is a way in which to increase transparency and good governance," Dr Muscat said.

The Prime Minister said his experience with the civil service has been a "schizophrenic one," where he was found people full of good ideas and others who cannot wait to clock off and go home.

He hailed the successful introduction of the new e-ID, saying people expected panic but the rollout was successful.

The aim is to have a world-class public sector, he said.

Dr Muscat said the public service has to measure itself against the services offered in the private sector.

"A minority of civil servants are still not getting it. The question we have to ask is,  if people had a choice, would they opt for government services over those offered by the private sector. If the answer is no, we have failed," Dr Muscat said.

Civil Service Head asks how lessons haven't been learnt from yearly shortcomings highlighted by NAO

Civil Service Head Mario Cutajar questioned how lessons have not been learnt from the annual spending mismanagement issues highlighted by the National Audit Office.

"The same issues are always highlighted by the NAO. We have to show our clients that we care how their money is spent," Mr Cutajar said during a public service conference.

He said reviews of the Public Service Disciplinary Code and the Public Service Management Code (PSMC) are under way, as currently the PSMC contains conflicting chapters and clauses.

"That's what happens when you make piecemeal amendments. We are working on a more user ‐ friendly PSMC and are also working on strengthening the public service disciplinary code."

He said the civil service has to show it cares about how taxpayers' money is being spent, saying the same shortcomings are highlighted every year by the Auditor‐General.

Mr Cutajar expressed his disappointment at the take ‐up of e ‐government services, and recognised the need to simplify certain forms as at the moment "they require the service of a lawyer" in order to understand them.

Mr Cutajar said Malta's e ‐government services are among the best in Europe, but one of the problems is a lack of accessibility to these services.

"The aim of the conference is to set a clear agenda for the year. It is also an occasion to look back and see what we have achieved. We are placing emphasis on planning and monitoring...

"This is not being done at the cost of accountability... We want this year to be a year in which we consolidate our achievements. The plan has to come together and be applied across the board. It has to reach all levels. The primary aim is offering a better service to our clients."

Mr Cutajar said three regional one ‐stop shops have been opened around Malta, with 2 50 government services being offered in each centre.

Three more of these one ‐stop shops will be opened this year, he said.

"We promised that we would move public services closer to the people instead of passing citizens from department to department and ministry to ministry...

"In 2014 we achieved 142 simplification measures."



 

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