Premier Dalton Tagelagi expressed his disappointment at the response and poor turnout on the first day of the National Summit held yesterday.
Last year at the first summit on the 24th of September 2020, there were more than one hundred participants from Senior public servants, Members of the Niue Fono Ekepule and representatives from the NGOs and Civil society groups.
The premier’s key message at the first summit last year was about building stronger relationships and this year his disappointment was evident in his speech.
The Premier’s disappointment was apparent when he stood up to deliver his speech to only around thirty people in the conference room. He spoke of the vision of former leaders or previous governments for a prosperous Niue, something that his government intends to progress.
He told the few people there that nothing has really improved since last year in terms of delivering on the objectives of the National Strategic Plan.
“I just hope that everyone can see what we’re trying to do here. We’ve got five years to go on that Strategic plan, last year was the halfway mark. We should’ve learned or we should have improved this year, but let me say, I haven’t seen much improvement. Someone can prove me wrong but I haven’t seen much improvement.”
Premier Tagelagi alluded to the lack of support and advice from the executive level of the public service and the lack of initiative coming from the senior executives who are supposed to deliver strategies but are instead waiting on directions from the Cabinet.
“I thought the meeting last year was for people to come up with new initiatives, to be innovative and the like but we’re still on that same platform from year in and year out, just waiting for Cabinet.
There are corporate plans in place, there are reports that have been written but it’s all about telling us things that we already know,” says Premier Tagelagi.
He is encouraging a change in attitude going forward to get more support for Cabinet’s vision.
“We already have our vision, but we’re not sharing with you otherwise it will not happen because we didn’t get the support and this is a good example of it. I can put a good idea up on the board but if you’re not with it or not helping then it’s a waste of time.
The disappointment was shared by the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission Ida Talagi-Hekesi who was not pleased with the last-minute agenda and notification of the Summit.
Mrs Talagi-Hekesi told the participants that the Commission will expect innovative ideas and direction going forward speaking of the Digital transformation that will be launched in a few weeks.
The New Zealand government provides annual administrative assistance to the Niue government and finances the majority of the personnel costs of the government.
New Zealand High Commissioner Helen Tunnah was there and spoke of her expectation to listen to what the Niue government intends to achieve over the next few years, especially with the economic recovery and reviving of the tourism sector. She also offered assistance to help with institutional strengthening efforts in training senior government officials on how to advise Ministers.
On the first panel was the Director of the USP Niue campus, Seone Lolesio (pic left) who suggested the establishment of an independent Economic Think Tank. The idea was also suggested at last year’s summit.
Mr Lolesio who is an economist and lecturer at the university also offered to undertake training workshops for senior public servants on Risk-based assessments.
One of the issues raised was the productivity levels of the government’s workforce.
The Director of Taoga Niue Ms Moira Enetama posed a question whether the government is going to reconsider the four-day week and return to the five days.
Ms Enetama said that given the financial situation of the government, wouldn’t it make sense to return to a five-day week so that there is more time for the government agencies to generate revenue for the government.
Premier Dalton Tagelagi told the Senior government officials at the Scenic Matavai yesterday that it is their role to drive the government’s vision of a prosperous Niue, and not have to depend or wait for Cabinet to make every decision.
“I think that is the key and the challenge for you going forward, for the next twelve months. I rely on your views on your input on how we can develop this country going forward”, says Premier Tagelagi.
The Niue National Strategic Plan 2016-2026 with the vision of a Prosperous Niue is the government’s guiding document on its key development aspirations.