BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
In line with Vision 2020 and EDPRS framework the Government of Rwanda has instituted various forms of ambitious reform programs to re-establish state institutions and reorganize the public administration for better service delivery.
These reforms have mainly targeted improvement across board within justice and governance sectors while seeking to empower the population through decentralization and democratization.
At the same time the reforms are focused on initiating realignments within the civil service and public administration.
However, implementation of reforms and the functioning and performance of public sector institutions are still far from satisfactory.
Much of the performance gap emanates from a severe lack of capacity within the established institutions. However this anomaly is being redressed. As stated in the Country’s Vision 2020 one of the identified development Pillars is Human Resource Development.
Public Service Commission
One way of undertaking this redress has been through the establishment by the Government of Rwanda of the Public Service Commission.
The main thrust of PSC is to institute reforms aimed at enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of the Public Service.
Part of this mandate entails undertaking the rationalisation and redefinition of the role of the Public Service institutions in service delivery; re-examination of management information systems; the regulatory framework and improvements in human resources management practices and systems.
The Public Service Commission was established as an independent entity whose main mission entails undertaking the following functions:
1. Spearheading reforms aimed at enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of Rwanda’s public administration.
2. Undertaking a radical transformation of structures, management systems, attitudes and mentality, professional aptitudes and human resource know-how, applied technologies, working methods and practices, legislation, norms and procedures.
3. Improving the quality of services rendered by public institutions with better cost effectiveness.
4. Transforming the public service sector through deepening the culture of transparency especially in the process of recruiting well skilled personnel in government institutions.
An autonomous institution
The PSC is a national permanent and independent institution endowed with administrative and financial autonomy whose supreme objectives includes:
• Undertaking the recruitment and appointment of public servants in Central Government and other public institutions.
• The submission of short listed names of candidates to the institutions concerned for employment, appointment and promotion of candidates who fulfil all the required conditions and have the most suitable qualifications for postings for which they have applied, taking into account the record of their conduct.
• The establishment of an appropriate system of recruitment of candidates which is objective, impartial, transparent and equitable for all.
• Carrying out research on the laws and regulations regarding the public service human resource requirements, and to develop the terms of reference for positions needed from time to time by Government while addressing other matters relating to the management and development of human resources within public service and to advise the Government accordingly.
• Submitting to the organs concerned proposals on appropriate disciplinary actions against errant public servants in accordance with the relevant laws in force.
• Providing technical assistance to State organs and public enterprises governed by special statutes with respect to human resource issues using its in house expertise.
• The PSC has also been empowered to take up its role as a check against the abuse of power, corruption and mismanagement within recruiting for government institutions.
Recruitment and promotion
The constitution emphasizes that Public servants are recruited, posted and promoted in conformity with the principle of equality for citizens, through an objective, impartial and transparent system on the basis of the competence, merit and integrity of applicants of both sexes.
The Public Service Law provides that recruitment of civil servants in various categories should be undertaken through a competitive manner.
According to the Law civil servants have to undergo a mandatory annual evaluation of their work and performance by their superiors within the hierarchy.
The objective of evaluation is to clarify the value of the concerned civil servant through making an assessment of his/her conduct and manners within the delivery of services.
The evaluation thus constitutes the essential basis for determining his/her rights to promotion every two years, as well as annual increase of his/her salary.
The modalities of performance evaluation and promotion are regulated by the Prime Minister’s decree.
Civil servants are paid monthly for their services. The basis of payment is determined by the basic salary plus other perks such as family allowances, bonuses, premiums and other benefits according to the servants’ position.
Remuneration is comprised of a base salary calculated on the basis of a salary scale. The base salary together with the amounts representing allowances, bonuses, premiums and other benefits constitutes the gross salary.
Allowances are part of the salary representing the State contributions to its civil servants, while premiums represent the remunerating part of salary.
Fiscal obligations and social welfare are deducted from the gross salary, making the net salary paid monthly to the civil servants.
The Public Service Commission is responsible for carrying out research on the laws, regulations, human resource requirements, the terms of reference of posts and any other matters relating to the management and development of human resources.
The Rwanda Institute of Management and Administration has been established to improve capacity and incentives for public servants.
Civil Service and Human Resource Development
The Government of Rwanda has conducted in-depth studies of the major constraints and problems affecting development, with a view to devise management strategies and policies that will help achieve economic growth as well as sustainable human resource development.
Thus top priority must be given most urgently to capacity building for human resources working or required to work in all sectors of national life.
Thus the public service reforms targets certain major objectives among them being:
1. To develop for the public and private sectors, as well as civil society bodies managerial, administrative and technical skills required for the planning and implementation of sustainable development as defined under Vision 2020.
2. To develop a culture of consistent professional capacity building so as to help the different economic sectors to offer quality services in line with citizens’ expectations.
Looking into the future
The public sector is looking forward to have an effective, flexible public sector that can lay the foundations for Rwanda to be competitive within the modern international economy.
The State will ensure good governance, which can be understood as accountability, transparency and efficiency in deploying scarce resources. But it also means a State respectful of democratic structures and processes and committed to the rule of law and the protection human rights in particular.
The Government places a high premium on the development of human capital with the necessary knowledge and skills, as a vehicle for social economic development and as one of the several measures to achieve Vision 2020 and the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) goals.
Accountability is defined as holding responsible elected or appointed individuals and organizations charged with a public mandate to account for specific actions, activities or decisions to the public from whom they derive their authority.
In pursuance of its constitutional mandate to investigate the actions, decisions and/or omissions of government departments, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has plans to establish a complaint access mechanism.
This mechanism will be used for lodging of complaints regarding the Public Service by the citizens.
These include complaints about poor service delivery and suspected acts of corruption, nepotism and related activities experienced within the public service.
Statistics regarding complaints lodged with the PSC are analysed annually in order to identify trends regarding areas of poor service delivery, suspected acts of corruption as well as related activities in the public service.
Redeployment, Forecasting and Planning of Human Resources
The Government is committed to improving civil servants’ qualifications and boosting both knowledge and skills in specific areas required by its personnel.
It also happens, however, that a certain number of Government employees hold posts for which they have no required skills, while others lack basic qualifications for employment in the civil service.
It would mean wastage of resources if such employees are retained in their current posts, when the new structure based on merit is put in place.
The Government, therefore, envisages redeploying these officers to more appropriate areas, using initially a programme of incentives in order to bring about better adjustment of qualifications.
The Service Reform is therefore an imperative requirement to restore public service efficiency. It seeks to improve services to the public and contribute to the implementation of the policy for both good governance and poverty alleviation.
The development of a strong civil service, with greater delegation of power and responsibility and involving a participatory approaches to the local communities in the management of public affairs is a matter of primordial importance to achieve the economic recovery of those priority areas marked out for poverty alleviation.