“No more excuses ” – President Bio warns heads of commissions, parastatals & agencies

President Dr Julius Maada Bio today delivered an opening address at the government’s first-ever Presidential Seminar for all 83 heads of commissions, parastatals, agencies and state-owned enterprises at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Aberdeen, Freetown.

The theme of the seminar is “Consolidating the Foundation for Service Delivery”, and is designed to provide participating state officials with the necessary political orientation, and to help them accelerate effective service delivery, and deepen their understanding of performance management systems.

The seminar which is a sequel to the cabinet retreat held a few weeks ago in Freetown, is organised by the Office of the Chief Minister.

In his keynote address, President Bio said that his presence at the seminar is a clear manifestation of his recognition of the important role and contributions of commissions, parastatals, agencies and state-owned enterprises to the achievement of his New Direction Agenda – to change and transform the lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans.

He said that he has directed the Chief Minister to convene the seminar because he wants to clearly state and outline his political and governance expectations for 2020, in terms of concrete service delivery to the people, and more importantly, to focus on strategic planning and prioritisation with clear and realistic targets.

According to State House report, the President was very clear in his keynote address. He said that 2020 is a year of delivery, and that there is no more room for excuses. He emphasised that state owned enterprises, commissions and agencies are in the front line of service delivery, and that Sierra Leoneans are now impatient to see and experience tangible outcomes impacting their lives.

“I have declared 2020 as the Year of Accelerated Service Delivery. I want and I expect delivery of results and outcomes from you this Year,” president Bio demanded.

Challenging and admonishing the participants, president Bio said: “And I expect to see tangible results by the second and third quarters of this Year. Simply, no more excuses. We are here to get a clear understanding of my political message to motivate and inspire you to focus on getting tangible results and outcomes that will impact on the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.”

But in a rather confusing, contradictory tone and message, after declaring 2020 as the year of delivery, the president praised the public officials for a job well done. “Let me commend you all for all the successes and achievements you have made in the past 22 months in governance. But this is a New Year and this is not the time to become complacent with our achievements. The people are impatient for results to impact on their daily lives. So as a government, we must improve on the way we run our institutions,” the president said.

President Bio challenged the participating institutional heads to be bold and innovative, adding that he wants to motivate them to be inspired and to leave a legacy in their institutions which he said the New Direction is all about. He encouraged them to develop the professional habit and culture of efficient political and economic management of the state.

Delivering his welcome address, chief minister professor David John Francis, said that the event is historic because it is the first time in modern Sierra Leone that a sitting President is meeting with all heads of institutions together in one room.

He said that the seminar is important because it recognises that commissions, parastatals, agencies and state-owned enterprises are an important component of state governance.

He also mentioned that all the agencies must clearly understand, remain committed and be inspired by the President’s New Direction Agenda to change and transform Sierra Leone; and more importantly, to accelerate effective service delivery.

The chief minister noted that since his election, President Bio has made consistent efforts to engage relevant stakeholders as a way of moving the country forward.

The chief minister in support of the President’s message noted that the seminar is an opportunity for Heads of Agencies and Commissions to engage with the President and to support his agenda of inclusive development, inclusive politics and inclusive governance through the Human Capital Development flagship programme.

According to State House report, the president’s message was clear: ‘All commissions, parastatals, agencies and state enterprises, must clearly understand and remain committed, and be inspired by the President’s New Direction Agenda – to change, transform and most importantly – accelerate service delivery for the people of Sierra Leone.’

President Bio is under intense pressure to downsize the public sector in order to reduce the government’s wage bill which is running at over 60% of total expenditure. There are calls for several of the state enterprises to be privatised or hived off as revenue generating businesses through public-private partnerships.

But the fact is that far too many of these state enterprises are loss making entities – a drain on the public purse; and the president will at some point soon, need to make serious political calculations leading to the downsizing of the public sector.

Today’s seminar may well signal president Bio’s warning shot at what the future holds for heads of commissions, agencies, parastatals and state enterprises.

6 Comments

  1. President Bio must remember time is never on the side of double-minded people. If things are not going as planned, he must make changes quickly and move forward. How many more warnings to come, before he takes real action?

  2. Here is a case where the President should take a look at his reflection and ask himself whether he has provided the right leadership since assuming the presidency to spur the rank and file of his administration to greater performance.A true leader is one who comes up with a decision of gem when all seem lost to turn things around a hundred and eighty degrees.What could be most remarkable about such a decision is that it is completely novel as a result of which it could even become the standard by which similar situations are judged.

    The trouble with President Bio is that he is never around long enough to effect the administering which the nation needs to plod along.He believes,by his actions,that his Chief Minister,David Francis,is more than capable to run the nation while he trots the globe in his futile effort to generate an inflow of investment.

    His economic team led by his Finance Minister has trouble applying fifth form Economics to get the nation moving, using locally available resources until such a time as when outsiders start to find us attractive to bring in their money.This is parochial of course since other factors to impinge on the decision making process of investors who also look at how stable a nation is and the laws governing property rights and repatriation of profits.

    “No more excuses” Mr President? Well we don’t want to hear anymore excuses from you for trying to run the country from overseas.Roll up your sleeves and get right into the thick of the fray.Upon seeing this your ministers and others will see that the game has changed,and that unless they understand the new rules and play by them you will gladly show them the exit signs with a grim face.

  3. It seems the Office of the Chief Minister is just a talking-shop. Where or what are the set targets for this wonderful ‘year of delivery’? It is just another showboating exercise culminating to another profound waste of resources. What a waste!

  4. Bravo brother for making people at the heads of state enterprises to know that business is business and not as in the past. People are wasting the state finances to pleasure their own interests. They must recognize that the president – our brother Dr Bio means business and delivery; making sure that Sierra Leonean receive it. LONG LIVE SIERRA LEONE AND HER PEOPLE.

  5. Indeed. No more excuses and no more blame game on the APC. Did they hear that? They are getting the message loud and clear from the progressive voices of Sierra Leone. We have said it from the beginning on this glorious platform that, they must deliver. Time is running out. It’s a race against time. State House is in sight. Again – have they started packing their suitcases? I hope they do.
    Finally, I would like to congratulate the Bio Administration this time around because, no barbarity, vicious onslaught, violence or reckless attacks were made against the APC, by some fanatic SLPP ungentlemen hoodlums, whilst the President was away. They respected the President and his authority this time around and therefore, they deserve some cool tapping on their shoulders. God bless our President.

    • It is my conclusion that public service delivery I can base on four key issues:
      That the Public service provision of Sierra Leone Government should be mission-oriented and that the mission of the Government displaces the conventional notion of self-profit maximization used with private sector institutions.

      Accountability in Sierra Leone’s public service delivery applies to the political, bureaucratic and market spheres. It refers to the system of punishment and reward consequent on actions taken by government agents, and to put in place trained individuals to make judgments although it does not have to governed by formal government relationships.

      Competition from private societies can induce public establishments to get their act together to hold on to funding and their clientele and finally the utilization of resources on the assessment of policies is a crucial part of effective public service provision where missions are too frail or not aligned and the front-line actors cannot be directly accountable for the recipients of the services.

      According to the president of Sierra Leone, the concern of public services should be with what citizens want rather than what it prepares government institutions to give. Yet, over the years, most of the developments in Sierra Leone’s public service delivery are characteristic of ineffective, cumbersome, too procedural, costly, red taped and not transparent systems. I will further argue that public servants in Sierra Leone have acted as masters with no awareness of accountability and transparency instead of acting as servants of people of Sierra Leone. However, the citizens of Sierra Leone have become familiarized with the enhanced service delivery from the private sector and thus, they now view the municipal sector as another provider of services for which they pay taxes.

      I will argue that although local establishments are the frontline local government institute closest to people, the scope and quality of service delivery is one of the most critical areas that have tinted Government credibility and institutional image. As a Sierra Leonean, I believe that some causes of deprived service delivery in town councils include, councilor meddling in administration, incompetent public participation, inadequate alignment of budget with the requests of the central government, lack of political and administrative leadership, inadequate infrastructure and shortages of skills in Sierra Leone. The sufferings of local citizens in Sierra Leone is a manifestation that the hard facts are that we have several impediments to service delivery, inadequate human resources, land tenure and consequential non-ratability of land, a history of central government agencies circumventing local authorities approvals and involvement, the substandard nature of infrastructure, the limited powers of local authorities to enforce health and education services control and management, exemption of some areas from building controls and the polarized views of the political parties in Sierra Leone.

      The major challenges that hindered service delivery in Sierra Leone identified by the citizens as:
      1. Lack of strategic awareness: Despite there being an important national plan of directives and processes, the study revealed that many staff at a supervisory and practitioner level was unaware of the issues raised within it and the impact it should have been having on their day-to-day operations.

      2. Lack of capacity: My study of the assessment showed that many of the operational staff were unaware of both national controls assurance standards requirements and their respective responsibilities. Listening to the news from Sierra Leone found the underlying cause of the awareness deficit to be a lack of training, education, or specific systems to involve staff, at this level in the government. As a result, the ministries are performing their roles without essential training and therefore exposing themselves and their fellow citizens to potential risk.

      3. Poor performance monitoring: Another issue applicable to all services was performance monitoring because although each of the services had monitoring systems in place, there was an overall lack of consistency and integration between the various systems in place.

      4. Poor coordination processes: Although each of the services had its capable processes for determining service requirements, planning delivery and managing suppliers, the Directorate’s co-ordination based on informal mechanisms, including face-to-face communication and meetings, and the different service groups lacked clear and enforceable performance standards. This led to long-standing disagreements between some service delivery teams, which led to a reduction in the quality of service. High staff turnover: It was also noted that there was a high turnover of operational staff and the inadequate level of management resource which affected service delivery adopted by the Sierra Leone government to enhance public sector performance. These strategies that touch on key requirements for improving the public sector and service delivery based on the concept of a ‘lean’ government. This means a government runs in partnership with all stakeholders, and one that focuses on promoting the advancement of the private citizens through a well-managed policy and regulatory environment.

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