The challenge for our policy makers today is to shape a public sector model that is agile, adaptive and flexible enough to service the needs of tomorrow while withstanding the mounting pressures of today’s demands. Assessment of the viability, and cost-effectiveness of the public services is therefore essential. For policy makers to succeed in that endeavour, the reforming agenda should continue. Further opening out of the public service is essential. Allowing a diverse range of providers to offer those services can only benefit the public. Not only will the costs of supply be lowered in the long-run, but such an open landscape would promote innovation (outside providers with new ideas and expertise), choice, renewed passion and trust.


In the end, the public sector will be supporting the nurturing of Small and Medium Enterprises along with experienced players to deliver those services. This will make Government not only a solution provider but a market enabler. New business players will mushroom out of this policy, and contribute towards job creation and, ultimately, tax collection.

As part of the continuing reform process, the risk of service failure/disruption is possible as are the political anxieties that come with that disruption. However, possible service interruptions should be viewed in the context of bringing lasting service improvements. Negative impact can also be mitigated if properly planned for at the outset. For instance, the public sector can draw from the experiences of the private sector in planning for disaster recovery events.


The public sector will continue to face increasing budget constraints. Now if we add a new component to this equation: Mauritius’ ageing population, then the pressure on the public purse will no doubt increase further. Addressing all those pressure points is essential otherwise we will end-up with an unaffordable and unsatisfactory public experience.


Therefore, the policy should be to assess which public services really need to be delivered and by whom. Conducting this honest assessment forms part of the reforming agenda. To measure the effectiveness of the supplier, some key success measurable factors are essential: quality, quantity, and more critical accessibility and reach of the service is safeguarded together with proper accountability and continuity of the service if it fails. With the opening-out policy the Government shall effectively be holding the stick, rather than being subject to it.

But, participation of the external service providers providers does not come for free. In the short term, their contribution may add to the cost of service. For instance, profit motive has often been viewed in the past as a major concern holding back the spirit of opening out. However, with increasingly frequent examples of the public, private and voluntary sectors working together, this issue can now be better managed to achieve Value for Money in the long-run.


At the outset, a critical audit assessment of the suppliers’ proposed costs profile should be carried out to evaluate performance delivery. Private suppliers can also do more to promote their respective contributions so that they are viewed as trusted business partners’ doing the right thing for the public good. The reforming agenda will be punctuated with stressful and anxious times. But those difficulties should not delay the opening out.

The Government will need to play an ever more critical role in securing the success of the policy. The future health of our public services demands more of the external solutions service providers not less.

Rajeev Basgeet

Partner,

PwC Mauritius

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