TONGA HURRIES TO CUT GOVERNMENT IN HALF

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, March 2) – Major changes to the structure of the Tongan government have been pushed through two weeks of consideration in order to meet today's deadline for the submission of reports on new models that will cut the number of government departments by at least half.

Only two weeks were allowed for consultation meetings between heads of government departments and public servants over two proposed models for the restructuring of government ministries, said Paula Ma'u, the Deputy Secretary to Cabinet, yesterday.

The new structure of government must be in place before June 30, he said, and after considering the reports, Cabinet has to decide which model is best for reducing the 30 government departments to 15 or even as few as eight divisions.

Ma'u said that some ministries had already filed their reports and indicated their preferred model of the two that were drafted by consultants and approved by the Cabinet.

There is urgency for government to be restructured before June 30, when the two-year working contract of government's Heads of Departments expires.

Government would also like to put a new salary structure in place.

At the moment the basic salary of a department head is more than that of a cabinet minister.

Ma'u said that both models proposed major changes in that the head of each division would be a chief executive officer, "but in some there will be both a chief executive officer and a cabinet minister." The two models, the Outcome-Clusters Model, with fifteen divisions, and the Portfolio Model, with eight divisions, differ mainly in the number of divisions.

In the Portfolio Model there are two central portfolios, the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which are responsible for Governance, Coordination, and Integration of Policy/Planning Activities.

In the Outcome-Clusters Model the three major divisions are the Central Agencies, the Line Agencies and the Support Agencies.

The Central Agencies are the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Finance, Planning and Economic Development, and the External Affairs agency – all together responsible for Governance, Coordination and Integration of Policy/Planning Activities.

The Line Agencies are responsible for major program delivery, integration of services and external focus – including Community and Business Services, Education and Employment, Primary Industries and Resources, Infrastructure, Health, Justice, Tourism and Revenue.

The Support Agencies are responsible for corporate functions, Administration, Facilitation and Support, and Internal Focus – consisting of Public Service Commission, Audit Office, and Shared Services.

March 3, 2006

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

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