Public sector reforms key to meet new challenges – Sec. to President

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 00:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge stated that the country’s administrative structure needs to change in order to meet the demands of the rapidly improving economic conditions.

‘The pace at which the economy moves is unbelievable. Many new areas are being developed’, he said adding, ‘reforms, must be undertaken with a very clear vision and an understanding of the future’.

He said so in an interview with India’s news magazine, GFiles.

Knowledge and skills of the public sector executives as well as non-executives need to be upgraded. Reforms are a must. The President is keen to elevate Sri Lanka’s public services to a very high level. In fact, his focus is on making them people-friendly, result-oriented and ever-improving, he said.

He added that the President has appointed the National Administrative Reforms Council (NARC) to spearhead the reforms.

Weeratunge also said that civil administration was not completely geared towards security concerns during the war against terrorism. ‘There were development initiatives that were handled by the civil administration during the decades Sri Lanka was involved in this conflict. Although there was a conflict situation, economic, social, cultural and spiritual activities continued. Civil administration had much to do with all this’, he said.

‘Our bureaucracy has been in the thick of development even when security was a key factor to be considered’.

Speaking on decentralisation he said that decision-making at the grassroots level is already happening. ‘Over the years, a great degree of decentralisation has taken place and public service delivery is improving at all levels. Divisional Secretariats are empowered so as to undertake a variety of activities of the rural communities’.

He also said, ‘extensive use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will facilitate many administrative processes, thereby speeding up implementation of a wide range of development projects’, adding this would promote the use of English in administrative work.

On enhancing productivity in the public sector, Secretary Weeratunge referred to the national productivity campaign being carried out at present and said there is wide participation by local government institutions.

 ‘At the centre, investment proposals are dealt with speedily and investors encouraged to invest in the areas the government has identified’.

Weeratunge also talked about building a trilingual Sri Lanka stating the President had declared that by 2020 this should be achieved.

He added that strong networks have been built with bureaucrats in the region especially India.

‘We admire the strength of the Indian Administrative Service and other All-India Services and their ability to withstand pressure and uphold the best traditions of competent civil services. There are some of the characteristics we should emulate’.