Sat | Oct 24, 2020

Streamline ministerial portfolios, make Cabinet lean

Published:Tuesday | September 8, 2020 | 12:14 AM


There is a view that the Cabinet should be small, with a limited number of ministers. The issues covered in ministerial portfolios today are many and complex, and the workload is daunting, no matter how young and energetic the minister may be.

An adequate number of ministers are required to be conversant with their subjects, and to efficiently and effectively execute their responsibilities. It also means that the permanent secretary’s attention is not divided.

The mega-ministries established in the 1970s, National Mobilisation and Human Resource Development, and in the 1990s, Development Planning and Production, as far as I am aware, were neither efficient nor effective. Now, we have Economic Growth and Job Creation; and Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries.

In most countries, the cabinet ranges from 20-35 and have manageable ministerial portfolios. There is a separate Ministry of Agriculture coupled with fisheries and, possibly, rural development. Agro-industries naturally falls under Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Investment. Given the increasing importance of the issues, there should be a ministry focusing on environment.

I hope that for this term of the Government, we will see a more adequate, efficient and effective Cabinet and an end to mega-ministries. Most portfolios should not have to be under the direct oversight of the Office of the Prime Minister.