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Gov’t size bloated, unhealthy — Ensour

By Omar Obeidat - Nov 01,2014 - Last updated at Nov 01,2014

AMMAN — Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Saturday described the size of the public sector as unhealthy, since it represents around 42 per cent of the economy. 

“This is an unhealthy phenomenon because internationally it is only around 15 per cent,” Ensour said at the inauguration of the Sixth Government Leaders Forum, organised by the Ministry of Public Sector Development. 

The size of the budget of the government and independent public agencies is around JD10 billion, while the Kingdom’s gross domestic product is around JD30 billion, which means that government spending, excluding some agencies and public-owned companies, is nearly one-third of the economy, the premier added. 

“This means that the government size is bloated and should be addressed,” he noted, expressing appreciation of the Public Sector Development Ministry for organising such forums and inviting officials from various countries to share their governments’ experiences in reform and public administration. 

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the Republic of Ireland Brendan Howlin attended Saturday’s forum. 

Howlin said Jordan and Ireland have “enormous potential” to share experiences and innovations as the two countries have much in common.

“This forum presents us with a real opportunity to share learning and to build relationships that will help all of us achieve our common goals,” the Irish official added.

The public sector in the Ireland of the future will be smaller and less expensive, he said, adding that effective and efficient public service can provide an environment that enables economic growth and employment creation.  

The performance and reputation of public institutions is also a critical factor contributing to a country’s competitiveness and the attractiveness of its business environment, Howlin noted, stressing that greater efficiency reduces the need for taxes to fund services.

“As we reach a more sustainable fiscal position, our next wave of public service reform must be ambitious and deliver positive identifiable outcomes for citizens, business, and public servants,” he said. 

“This will require leadership, strengthened performance and accountability,” Howlin added, pointing out that all ideas were contained in the new civil service reform programme launched in Ireland on Friday.  

He said the programme sets out a new direction for the civil service to be achieved over the next three years, maximising the performance and potential of all employees, so that “our Civil Service is agile, responsive and flexible”.

The Irish official also talked about the measures taken by the government in Dublin to control spending and stimulate growth after the 2008 global financial crisis, which hit Ireland. 

Minister of Public Sector Development Khleef Al Khawaldeh said the meeting aimed at benefiting from the experience of Ireland in the field of public administration. 

The forum, Khawaldeh added, will enable government leaders such as secretaries general and directors of public agencies to look at the experiences of some countries that were able to achieve economic growth by reforming public administration.

The forum also saw the participation of Robert Watt, secretary general of the Irish department of public expenditure and reform, who gave a presentation on Irish public service and the progress achieved to date. 

He highlighted that among the achievements made in Ireland are strengthened expenditure control and public expenditure reforms, reducing staff numbers by nearly 10 per cent, “better use of ICT and data sharing”, and more online delivery of services. 

In August, the Ministry of Public Sector Development hosted assistant CEO at Singapore’s Civil Service College Roger Tan to brief directors and secretaries general of ministries and public institutions on his country’s experiences in public administration reform and how it became a leading public service provider.  

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