State House, Freetown, Thursday, January 10 2019 – His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has officially opened the Second Cabinet Retreat for Ministers and Civil Servants organised by the Office of the Chief Minister at the Bintumani Conference Center, Aberdeen, Freetown to improve interagency relations.
With the theme: “Strengthening Political and Administrative Relations for Effective Service Delivery”, the main objectives of the retreat included the review progress on government’s eight priority areas, building stronger and collective commitment to taking the necessary action and delivery on those priorities. They also included building a stronger working relationship between Ministers and Civil Servants and identifying ways to strengthen their delivery capabilities and getting them to commit to the key features of an effective delivery culture.
In his opening address Chief Minister, Professor David John Francis, said the extraordinary meeting was about strengthening effective governance through service delivery, adding that improved service delivery would impact the lives of the less privileged and marginalised in society. He noted that the business retreat would also provide the platform to review government’s achievements since the inaugural retreat in June 2018.
“The objectives of this political and administrative retreat are targeted to review the eight strategic priority programmes and to build a strong positive high performing connective between ministers and civil servants to deliver on government objectives. This retreat also provides the opportunity for ministers to have a first-hand information and knowledge about the performance management contract that they will be signing with the President by the 31st January 2019,” he said.
On his part, President Bio started by congratulating everyone for starting on the right footing, saying that since the last retreat his government had collectively taken strong steps that had been acknowledged and recognised around the world. He said as a government that was responsible, they wanted to change the nation.
The president described the first retreat as a vibrant and interactive engagement with one another and one that was characterised by open conversations on the national priorities of the New Direction government. He added that his presence at the second retreat was to inspire everyone, while reiterating that there was a great job ahead in terms of delivering on government priorities.
“Collaboration among ministries must be driven by strategic outcomes. Cooperation among ministries must not only be purposeful and planned, it should involve strategic reviews of those relationships at all times. So, what I emphasised in the last retreat was that we must have a shared understanding and the shared ownership of the national priorities as established.
“Our national priorities should be translated into deliveries and deliverables for the people of Sierra Leone. Historically, there has been a discordant between the political and administrative leadership of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) that has led to the series of challenges that affected our growth. This fractured relationship has had consequences on policy implementation and delivery,” he said.
He added that the end result of those fractured relationships had been a huge performance and governance deficit in MDAs, adding that he was aware that there were differences among some MDAs. He, however, called on everyone to put their differences aside and to work towards a common goal because the interest of the nation was bigger and more important than anyone’s.
President Bio also observed that corruption was a serious threat to MDAs efficiency and one that had affected the growth and development of the nation. He said State resources were not personal or family properties, but that they were public properties belonging to the people. He added that the Commissions of Inquiry was not only meant to discover stolen monies and properties from past public officials but were also important to show the deficiencies in the government system.
“We must draw the line on the culture of impunity in this country. Civil and Public Servants must act with integrity, impartiality and fairness. We will not hesitate to deal with anyone going contrary. Now is the time to deliver for the people of Sierra Leone and tell our own stories,” he admonished.
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