Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Keynote Address Closing of “Launching Strategic Direction of National Program for Administration Reform and Preparation of Action Plan 2009-2013” Nati

Intercontinental Hotel, 18th February 2009

- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Dear participants!

Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to participate in the closing of important national conference on “Launching Strategic Direction of National Program for Administration Reform and the Preparation of Action Plan for 2009-2013”, which is organized by the Council for Administration Reform.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey my high appreciation and compliment to the Council for Administration Reform and all relevant stakeholders for providing their material and technical supports to the preparation of this conference. In parallel, I also would like to express my appreciation to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and all participants for your active participation and vigorous discussion on key and meaningful topics for the constructive cause of setting Direction and Strategic Plan for National Program for Administration Reform to revamp public service to become more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective, which is capable of answering the need of the people aiming at increasing the welfare and livelihood of the people.

Such a positive spirit and participation is the reflection of great attention of the management and civil servants of all levels to promote and strengthen institutional managerial capacity which is the key prerequisite of public administration reform program for the cause of ensuring sustainable and equitable socio-economic development and social justice that we all need and which is also in conformity to the will of the Royal Government who considers good governance as the core of the Rectangular Strategy during the Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly.

Taking this auspicious occasion, I would like to convey my high compliment and appreciation to the Council for Administration Reform, particularly H.E. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, Permanent Vice Chairman of Supreme Council for State Reform and Chief of Council for Administration Reform for collaborating closely with relevant ministries/institutions and development partners and successfully leading the implementation of the Public Administration Reform Program and for preparing the “Strategic Direction of National Program for Administration Reform and the Preparation of Action Plan for 2009-2013”, which enabled us to gather today to discuss about the preparation of action plan for subsequent implementation.

Also, I would like to thank all development partners who made contribution and support with good will to the effort of the government in all reform platforms, especially the “Public Administration Reform” for the cause of poverty reduction and the development of Cambodia.

The Public Administration Reform will not only help improve the quality of public service delivery and poverty reduction, but also work as the mechanism to strengthen institutional capacity which in turn will trigger the change in the behavior and attitude of civil servants. Indeed, the Public Administration Reform has a broad coverage and plays a coordinating role and providing rules, standardization and other necessary tools to increase the efficiency, productivity and unity of public service. The people’s welfare and the prosperity of the nation depend on many determinants where effective public administration is one of the key factors. Furthermore, I am of the view that the Public Administration Reform is designed to encourage government officials to work willingly and honestly and transform themselves from managers into respected service providers to answer to the real need of the people and to fulfill their duties with high sense of accountability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness.

Obviously, the Royal Government is determined to lead and take ownership of various reforms because reforms are the policy formulation for bringing harmonization and prosperity to the nation. Public Administration Reform is a long process requiring patience and step-by-step implementation at each stage. Clearly, for the last 5 years we had made many achievements in public administration reform program including civil servant census for the construction of fundamental database for computerized human resource management, the introduction of a new pay and classification regimes, computerized personnel retirement system, adoption of Strategy to Rationalize the Civil Service, putting in place legal and regulator framework for civil servant management, adoption of Governance Action Plan (GAP) I & II covering 9 priorities sectors, laying out public service delivery policy, implementation of the Priorities Mission Group (PMGs) and Merit-Based Payment Initiative (MBPI) etc…

In the implementation of the Rectangular Strategy and the Strategy to Rationalize the Civil Service, we are committed to maintain the current number of civil servant and deploy them where and when required to facilitate implementation of various projects. On the other hand, we have adopted the decentralization of ICT-based human resource management and increased remuneration between 10% and 15% per year as envisaged in the Public Administration Reform Program of the government.

So far, the government has started carried out the PMGs at a number of ministries and institutions in order to strengthen institutional managerial capacity by developing selection criteria, raising social security transfer and bonuses for civil servants and piloting the MBPI with the objective to increase the efficiency, transparency and responsibility of the public service. Moreover, the Royal Government also tried the “Single Window” mechanism to facilitate public service users and adopted the implementation of commune/sangkat decentralization and ICT-based service provision. As the result of the implementation of public administration and public financial management reform programs, the government has raised the average monthly salary from 120,000 riels in 2004 to about 300,000 riels in 2009 i.e more than double.

The Royal Government of the Fourth Legislature of National Assembly will keep further expanding the implementation of PGMs and MBPI to priorities ministries and institutions in order to deepen nation-wide sectoral reforms of the government.

The Royal Government will continue to increase the base salary by 20% per annum and pay particular attention to the efficiency of its IT system, strengthen the management and capacity building of public servants, encourage women to involve more actively in the public administration, improve basic public service delivery, state’s sovereign service, other services relating to investment, trade, and SMEs through the implementation of “Single Window” mechanism and the establishment of people’s offices.

Along with this, various ministries/institutions are involving fiercely in de-concentrating their responsibility to facilitate and provide public services timely and efficiently. In this spirit, the Royal Government will give priority to the improvement of public services for all people, including the provision of legal documents to facilitate investment, trade, agriculture, education services, health, and local administration and so forth.

In general, we aim at cutting down bureaucracy in our public administration and make public services more efficient, transparent, accountable, and accessible while the public servants are well motivated, honest, obedient to professional ethics, and willing to provide public services to the people. In this context, we need to accelerate the improvement of public services to become a wise servant with quality and credibility.

In particular, increasing the salary of public servants has been the Royal Government’s determination since the 1st Term of the Legislature of the National Assembly to make them committed to serving the country and the people. However, this is a difficult job and cannot be accomplished in the short term as its success depends on economic condition and government revenue, which require comprehensive examination and gradual implementation. In this spirit, I have instructed the Council for Administration Reform Council to prepare the Strategy of National Administration Reform and Action Plan for 2009 - 2013 on the basis on our past achievements.

It is no doubt that our consecutive successes in the Public Administration Reform do not only highlight the distance we have traveled in a short period of time, but greater achievements of the Royal Government that stem from the visionary policy and appropriate strategy, firm determination, support and active involvement, and the ownership and responsibility of all ministries/institutions and all levels of government officials. However, with these encouraging achievements, the Royal Government also acknowledges that we still have a long way to go and there are countless obstacles awaiting us before reaching the reform’s final objective.

Indeed, the public administration reform requires all stakeholders to work closely and firmly together to overcome all challenges, including the limited capacity of those responsible for implementing the reform, limited support from development partners both in terms of materials and techniques, lack of consistency and consensus amongst officials and ministries/institutions in the cooperation and implementing reform. Indeed, these challenges originate from the absence of deep and comprehensive knowledge on the substance, processes, and strategy of the reform within ministries/institutions. In this sense, I request all ministries/institutions to promote understandings more comprehensively and deeply about the Public Administration Reform and maintain the ownership of this implementation. Our immediate task is to prepare the legal framework and build institutional and human capacity at all levels to ensure that all governmental institutions will be able to work efficiently, correspond to the actual demand, and get closer to the people.

I will not recall the outcomes of this conference, but, in order to strengthen the implementation of the Public Administration Reform, I would like to draw the attention of the conference to the following issues:

1. Promoting transparency and improving the quality of public services by updating governance work plan and collecting data on the provision of public services. In this spirit, all ministries/institutions must reexamine their own provision of public services, including the use of IT and mechanisms for exchanging dialogue with the community. All ministries/institutions must improve transparency in the provision of public services to serve the public timely and efficiently. Therefore, I request all ministries/institutions to finalize all documents relating to the public administration reform to improve the quality of these services for the public.

2. Enhancing the accountability and effectiveness of public services through institutional mechanisms such as PGMs and MBPI in order to change the value and behavior of civil servants at all level. In this sense, I request all ministries/institutions to establish and use these PGMs to promote the effectiveness of public services. To increase the efficiency of institutions and officials, I request all ministries/institutions to cooperate closely with the Council for Administration Reform to expand the coverage of priority package and merit-base bonus scheme, simplify administrative procedures, prepare annual work plan on priority package, and provide merit-based bonuses.

3. Developing institutional and human capacity by providing knowledge and know-how to government officials through trainings, appointing government officials on the basis of capacity and skill, recruiting, motivating and maintaining competent officials, and using skilled human resources efficiently. Moreover, all ministries/institutions must prepare work plans and develop the capacity of their officials to oversee and coordinate existing resources. I think the consistency and smoothness of the public administration reform require the preparation of policy paper on the implementation and human resource management, which is the base document, and the increased use of IT for managing human resources.

4. Strengthening the management and allocation of government officials through the re-preparation of policy on allocating government officials and reinforcement of institutional mechanisms in managing and overseeing this process to meet the requirement of priority operations. Along with this, ministries/institutions must facilitate the transfer of front-row and competent officials amongst ministries/institutions to fill the gap of human resources in order to promote the efficiency of the public administration reform.

5. All ministries and institutions have to look at the possibility of strengthening and expanding the “Single Window” mechanism to facilitate public service users and continue to strengthen the implementation of de-centralization and IT service delivery.

Once again, I would like to express my profound compliment to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and all participants for spending your most valuable time to discuss and provide your valuable ideas and comments as important inputs for the preparation of action plan and programs to implement the Strategic Direction of Public Administration Reform Program and Action Plan for 2009-2013. This contribution and involvement has truly provided this forum with motivation and energy to proceed smoothly and successfully for the benefit of the society as a whole.

Finally, along with the closing of the national conference on “Launching Strategic Direction of National Program for Administration Reform and the Preparation of Action Plan 2009-2013”, I would like to wish Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen the Four Gems of Buddhist Blessing: longevity, nobility, health and strength.


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