HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 596: 29 December2011

Public sector review report released by Opposition Office
Greater empowerment and autonomy for the Mayor and Island councils in the Pa Enua is just one of the recommendations in the ADB Consultant’s report on the Public Sector Performance Review a copy of which was made available to the Herald this week by the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. The Opposition Office advised the Herald it wanted the report’s recommendations released in the public interest.
The review recommends that the existing role of Island Secretary on each island be phased out and replaced by a ‘Clerk of Council’, who will report directly to the Mayor. The new structure would see each Mayor and Island Council become completely responsible for the financial management of their respective island’s administration, with the assistance of the Clerk of Council. The review states that this move will ensure the administration of each island is able to make their own decisions on core relevant issues, recognising that each island faces its own unique set of challenges and issues. It also acknowledges that island administrations will need to build capacity to have the necessary skills to govern effectively and responsibly.
While government currently divides its functions and activities into 12 sectors, the proposed changes would see a restructuring of government activities to just eight core sectors of:
1) Education, Culture and Sports
2) Economic Development
3) Environment, Energy and Climate Change
4) Finance and Revenue Management
5) Foreign Affairs
6) Health and Social Services
7) Infrastructure, Transport and Communication
8) Law and Justice
The change would mean amalgamation of certain existing ministries into others, such as immigration, which would become part of the Ministry of Justice under the new structure. Additionally, a new Shared Services division would be created. Shared Services would carry out the core administrative services for all sectors, including finance and accounting, information, communication and technology, human resource management and procurement.
One of the major transformations within the restructuring would see the creation of the Ministry of Economic Development. There are three proposed structures for the new sector, but all three would see the ministry as an umbrella authority for the key areas of Tourism, Marine Resources, Financial Services Development, the Pearl Authority, Agriculture and Business, Trade and Investment. Under all three proposed structures, it is recommended in the review that the ministry has an advisory board. This recommendation is unique to the Ministry of Economic Development due to “the enormity of the task involved in managing the country’s economic drivers under a single structure”.
The review recommends that certain functions be shifted to a State Owned Enterprise, Public Private Partnership (PPP) and/or Commercialisation structure. The candidates for this shift are:
1) Management of national facilities including the National Auditorium, National Library and Museum, BCI Stadium and the Telecom Sports Arena)
2) Water and sanitation
3) Roads, automotive and traffic
4) Airline and shipping services
5) Waste management services
6) Early childhood learning centres
The shift would mean that partnerships between the private sector and government would be developed in the management and ownership of each sector, as well as in the delivery of the service itself. The review cites one of the reasons for the shift to a PPP and/or commercialisation structure as a means to enhance ways in which each sector can generate revenue in order to sustain its existence, but more significantly to improve the quality of the service provided.
Part of the recommendations also includes more focus on improving performance within the public sector at all levels, through the introduction of more standardised systems and structures across all sectors and ministries. It is also suggested that the Public Service Act 2009 will need “substantial” revision in order to accommodate the scope of recommendations made in the review. According to the review the benefits of implementing the vast changes recommended include potential savings of approximately $8 million. However the challenge for government now will be implementing the restructure whilst minimising job losses and other negative impacts on the 16% of the overall population currently employed by the public sector. -Ngariki Ngatae

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.