The Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) will be revitalized to enhance effectiveness and efficiency in its administration and operation. As the lead agency in the development of the agriculture sector, the department will undergo reforms aimed at improving the delivery of services and addressing the needs of the farmers especially the rural population.
Acting Secretary for DAL Dr Vele Pat Ila’ava said the process to make the department become more focused and objective in its performance has commenced since his appointment earlier this year.
Dr Ila’ava said his immediate task is to position the department to provide the leadership and assistance for key stakeholders in the sector to get on with their activities and business. He said that as a key player in the nation’s PNG Vision 2050, the challenge for the department and the agriculture sector was on how best to leverage and manage the huge financial gains from the energy and mining sectors to build a vibrant and sustainable economy for the future. DAL is the key agency in the economic sector and must be transformed to boost agriculture development.
DAL has, over the past years, received criticism of its lacklustre performance in addressing the needs of the agriculture industry, and especially in providing much needed services to the rural population. There have been numerous complaints about the lack of support in terms of enabling farmers to produce sufficient food for their own sustenance as well as participating in economic activities.
Dr Ila’ava said he had instructed the senior management to review the department’s role and functions and to take remedial actions in making DAL more competent and effective. These included a review into the operations at headquarters and overall performance of staff. As a result some senior officers have been suspended for failure to carry out their duties and responsibilities and for incompetency.
As part of the revitalization process, DAL has also engaged former senior public servant and Auditor-General, Sir Makena Geno, with specific terms of reference to review the management, in particular, the financial management and operations of the department’s budget in 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.
Dr Ila’ava said of major concern was that DAL has not been proactive in implementing programs that were budgeted for over the years; identify what were the causes; and take remedial actions. He said Sir Makena is expected to submit his report in July and the recommendations would be implemented without delay. It is expected the recommendations will also assist the department in framing the 2013 budget and improve the department’s management of funds for its recurrent operations. This will enable funds for development projects to be freed up and implemented as required by the Government.
He said that the department’s Corporate Plan has also been reviewed and was to be finalized and approved soon for implementation. The Corporate Plan sets out the way forward for the department to be revitalized and strengthen its overall performance in the sector, and to work closely in partnership with its stakeholders.
Dr Ila’ava also appealed to all DAL staff at headquarters and in the provinces to fully cooperate with the management in the implementation of the current revitalization process and to contribute positively to make the department a better and stronger organization in terms of delivery of agricultural services.