Ministers doubt idea of merging departments


TWO Cabinet ministers have expressed reservations about the idea of amalgamating the Department of Implementation and Rural Development (DIRD) and the Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM).
The announcement of planned mergers of agencies of government is a cost cutting measure to curb government spending for the coming fiscal year.
This was made known during the debate on the 2017 budget handed down this month by Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch in Parliament.
Civil Aviation Minister Davis Steven said while the Public Service Bill continued to impose a real challenge, cost cutting by merging two important departments may be counter-productive and should not be permitted without broad discussion.
DIRD is currently responsible for facilitating and coordinating of all services improvement programmes (PSIP, DSIP and LLGSIP).
The 2017 budget introduces the Ward Services Improvement Programme which directs attention at the micro level. This important policy intervention is making impact throughout the nation.
As government and all commentators now say, the success of the SIPs must now be assured and enhanced by putting in place robust systems and structures working at the districts, LLGs and now wards, Davis said.
“That points to a dedicated department like DIRD which now has the knowledge base and capacity to further refine its structures to ensure regional development,” he said.
“This is the trend elsewhere in the region where rural or regional development and infrastructure is the sole function of a dedicated department. Too much is at stake in our nation when one looks at the amount of public monies now being directed to the lower governments and the accompanying expectations for change where it matters.”

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