PSC Chairperson confirm government structural reforms amid complaints from Directors over lack of consultations

The Chairperson of the Public Service Commission Ida Talagi Hekesi has confirmed the reforms to the government’s organisational structure which will be rolled out over the next two years.

Commissioner Talagi-Hekesi was on News of the Week programme last Friday and said that the mandate of the Commission is to ensure the efficiency and economy of the public service and it’s also the aspiration of any elected government to improve how the government service performs.

“Our mandate is looking at the efficiency and economy of all the different government departments, so taking that into consideration and the aspirations of the government of the day. That combination of making sure that we look at efficiency and we look at the economy and especially in these Covid times.

“Resources are very limited and so we can’t continue in this current structure. So that’s the idea behind this and it’s not just this government, I think it’s always been the wish of every government that comes in that they have to look at the efficiency of every government department.

She said that these reforms are not new, they have been proposed in numerous review reports over the past years and the Commission had approved the reforms in principle before the paper was submitted to Cabinet.

“This structure, admittedly with the Niue Public Service, we approved it in principle, and it went to Cabinet.

Now what came out of Cabinet wasn’t exactly what went in but that’s okay. We have to work with some of the slight changes that the government of the day and Cabinet has made”, says Commissioner Talagi-Hekesi.

Commissioner Talagi-Hekesi also confirmed the robust conversations that took place between the Public Service Commission and the directors of departments last Thursday.

The meeting was called after the story broke on Wednesday last week about the structural reforms and some directors contacted BCN news saying that they were not consulted at all.

Despite the complaints, Commissioner Talagi-Hekesi told the NoTW programme that consultations have been ongoing over the years.

The Directors of the Ministries and Departments have until Thursday this week to respond with their comments on the proposed structural reforms approved by Cabinet last month.

If these structural reforms proceed unchanged there will be an increase in the number of Central Agencies from four to seven.

There will be an additional ministry making it four government ministries with six new departments, two under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the four new departments under the new Ministry of Finance and Economics.

The proposed new structure includes the establishment of two new departments under the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Department of Climate Change and the Department of Fisheries.

There are also proposed changes to establish and rename central agencies, such as the central agency called National Security which is a name change from the Niue Police to National Security. National Security is the central agency for the Police, the National Disaster Management office, and corrections responsible for the running of the prison farm.

What used to be the Central agency of the Cabinet and Parliamentary services will in the new structure be separate agencies, one called the Executive and the other Assembly.

What used to be External Affairs and used to be under the purview of the Office of the Secretary to Government will in the new structure be elevated to a central agency called Foreign Affairs.

There will be a fourth ministry, the Ministry of Finance and Economics, which is largely the same including Customs and Taxation, Immigration and Statistics, Economics and Trade and a proposed new Auditor’s Office.

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