PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela had introduced a number of administrative cost cutting reform measures within his political office starting in December.
The reform targets the PM’s Political Office which includes:
o Policy Implementation, Monitoring & Evaluation Unit (PIMEU)
o PM’s Private Office
o Cabinet Sub-Committees
Speaking at his first press conference with the local media yesterday at Heritage Park Hotel, PM Houenipwela said this was part of his Government’s priorities in managing the fiscal situation.
Mr Houenipwela said the reform has resulted in the number of Political Appointees (PAs) reduced from 60 to just above 30 staff.
He said the reform also includes a reduction in salary levels and benefits;
“Appointments are subject for review.
“This action is expected to result in savings,” he added.
Furthermore, Houenipwela said he had given instruction to cut back on mobile telephones from 138 to 60 currently in PMO.
“I have introduced a new policy (which there was none) with rules and guidelines on
o Eligibility for issue of post-paid mobile phone;
o Eligibility and ceiling for data usage
o Other strict monitoring mechanisms for abuse;
“It is expected these measures will also result in significant savings for the government,” he said.
Houenipwela said the drastic action was taken after analysis showed uncontrolled issue & use of post-paid mobile phones, which led to gross abuse and resulted in overrun of the PMO Telephone bill of over $2M per year.
“About 80% of usage is mobile internet data,” he said.
“We have discovered that PMO had been paying bills respect of 138 mobile phones, more than 30 of which were unknown users;
“Government has been paying phones bills for millions of dollars in the past years,” PM said.
Houenipwela said he’s eager to ensuring fiscal discipline across all government departments, but they will take it one step at a time;
He said these actions are part of his Government’s priority to ensure they cut down on unnecessary costs to the Government;
“I have initiated these actions within the PMO but hope that in due time we would apply them throughout the rest of the government departments,” he said.
THE MEDIA will now have the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela and other Ministers of line ministries this year.
This came after PM Houenipwela had instructed the department in PMO to establish a media strategy that actively involves disseminate information on Government activities.
Houenipwela said this has resulted in the development of now a media strategy as well as policy on information dissemination.
“As a result of this strategy I have taken this “Meet the Press” initiative.
“This is a program which will see all ministers rostered to have their own press conference: where members of the media will come to meet the Minister making a statement on his departments programs of activities, policies, legislations or any other important announcements pertaining to his/her department,” he added.
PM Houenipwela said the press will then engage with the Minister in a question and answer session.
“This is apart from all formal reports, and other statements and exchanges that may be necessary on the floor of Parliament.
“In so doing I believe the Government is engaged more actively and directly with the public,” he added.
By EDDIE OSIFELO