Shaikh Mohammed unveils federal government strategy
ABU DHABI - In the presence of The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Tuesday unveiled the UAE Government Strategy, the core message of which is to ensure sustainable development and a high quality of life for all UAE nationals.
Their Highnesses, Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of the emirates, Cabinet Ministers, members of the Federal National Council and over 1,000 senior government officials attended the announcement at Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The strategy marks a new beginning for government sector performance in the UAE. It is in line with major economic developments taking place in the country and focuses on implementing best practices in all government sectors to achieve prosperity on one hand and promote the UAE's regional and international status on the other. The strategy embodies key principles, most important of which is enhancing the level of government provided services to UAE nationals and expatriates, and in unifying efforts within a common framework that focuses on the people of this nation.
In his speech, Shaikh Mohammed said: 'The strategy has been developed in line with the vision of His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the National Programme he launched in December 2005. Therefore, the strategy's objectives concur with those of the National Programme that focus on achieving sustainable and balanced development and a high quality of life for all UAE nationals.
'As we present this strategy, which sets the foundations for a new era of public administration, we remember the devotion with which our founding fathers built this nation and aimed to give its people a better life. This compels us to pursue those endeavours with great responsibility, continue to build on their efforts and conquer the challenges in order to promote the leading position that our country has achieved in all different areas.”
Shaikh Mohammed explained: 'The changing times and the nature of the challenges prompt us to think in a different way and to adopt international best practices in the area of public administration. Hence this strategy, that unifies efforts within a strategic framework with clear objectives based on detailed studies, clearly identifies and integrates federal and local efforts'.
The UAE government strategy which comprises 21 topics under six major sectors follows a number of general principles: Maintain continuous cooperation between federal and local authorities; Revitalise the regulatory and policy making role of the ministries, and improve decision-making mechanisms; Increase the efficiency of governmental bodies, and upgrade the level of services based on customer needs; Develop civil service regulations and human resources, focusing on competence, effective emiratisation and leadership training; Empower ministries to manage their activities in line with public and joint policies; Review and upgrade legislations and regulations.
Those principles will be underlined by developing coordinated strategies for all federal ministries, building effective government performance systems and implementing the subsequent initiatives within the six major sectors of the UAE government strategy: social development, economic development, public sector development, justice and safety, infrastructure and rural development.
Shaikh Mohammed said: 'We realise that the current disposition of each of the six sectors is confused, lacks strategic planning and proper policy making and suffers from deficiencies in the legislative and regulatory framework.
“I believe that the reason for this situation is the dimension and speed of change that has dominated the international arena during the past few years. The slow pace by which federal institutions, in all parts of the world, responded to this change has not made it any better, primarily due to the nature and complexity of the federal state where the process of decision making goes through a longer path than in simple mono-provincial states.
'I am confident that by bringing in change the federal government processes will not only improve the efficiency of the government, but will also enhance and improve the mechanism of cooperation between the federal and the local governments.'
Shaikh Mohammed added: 'Creating synergy between the federal and the local governments is one of the most important and vital elements of development underlined in this strategy.
'The federal government specialises in all legislations pertaining to economic, trade, labour, education and healthcare regulations. The Federal government should be attuned to all changes and developments as the local governments are responsible for implementing most activities that support the development of the country.
Wherever both fail to establish a sound platform for collaboration, gaps is certain to be found.'
The social development sector includes six topics: pre-university education, higher education and scientific research, healthcare, population and labour force, social welfare and development, and, culture, youth and community development.
Shaikh Mohammed said: 'The Federation has spent hundreds of billions of dirhams on developing education, healthcare, housing, social welfare, culture, youth and sports. However, despite the huge spending, the outcome has remained far below our aspirations.
“The problem is not in the lack of funding but rather in implementation. For example, in healthcare we are not short of doctors, nor hospitals, clinics, or advanced equipment. The healthcare sector has a major issue regarding quality'.
The major directions of public policies in education aim at maximising the student and school performance levels, in compliance with society's expectations, increasing the quality of performance of public and private schools, ensuring the quality of public and private academic programmes, expanding the role of higher education institutions to meet community requirements and graduating qualified nationals to compete for opportunities in the job market.
In the healthcare sector, the strategy focuses on developing organisational, legislative and legal frameworks based on international best practices to upgrade and improve the private and public sector health services.
In addition, quality control systems will be applied to public hospitals, in parallel with the development of the primary health care units. The strategy also covers training of medical professionals and enhancing Emiratisation programmes in this key sector.
The UAE strategy includes developing certain mechanisms to address the issue of the imbalance in the UAE's population structure and to decrease illegal and marginal labourers.
The strategy also focuses on enhancing Emiratisation levels and stresses the importance of hiring skilled expatriate laborers that will help build the nation's knowledge economy.
Shaikh Mohammed affirmed that Emiratisation is a priority in the UAE Federal Government Strategy. He expressed optimism that one day he would find UAE nationals in all top positions acting as key drivers of economic development.
But 'dreams', he said, 'cannot be realised if they are not based on reality. Otherwise, they would be no more than a mirage.' He added: 'Our youth should have the qualifications and expertise to compete in both government and private sectors.
“We need to take real, solid and sustainable steps towards Emiratisation. We will be able to accomplish this objective once we develop a comprehensive strategy that determines priorities, and combines federal and local efforts'.
The strategy includes formulating a unified social policy that strengthens the organisational role of the Federal Government in this regards and moves the country from the social welfare approach to the social development approach. In addition, the strategy aims to highlight the national identity and the sense of belonging, conserving the cultural and intellectual heritage and supporting the youth and promoting their role in developing their community.
Concluding the section on social development, Shaikh Mohammed pointed out the lack of private sector participation in social welfare programmes, calling upon companies and businessmen to demonstrating their commitment towards social responsibility.
Shaikh Mohammed attributed negative reports released by international agencies to the failure of some private sector companies to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities, at a time when corporate social responsibility is becoming an international standard that determines the evaluation of a company's performance.
He stressed that the government will work to enhance the participation of the private sector in society and create a reward system to acknowledge socially responsible companies.
On the economic sector, Shaikh Mohammed said: 'Our nation has maintained robust economic growth over the past few years, with GDP rising from 261 billion dirhams in 2002 to 599 dirhams in 2006. And we can achieve much more, with all the untapped opportunities around us.
“The government strategy has formulated certain public policies designed to stimulate economic growth, strengthen the competitiveness of the national economy, increase participation of UAE nationals and upgrade the legislative and regulatory framework to match current and expected economic growth.
“This is in addition to building the capabilities of implementation and coordination with the local governments.' The strategy emphasises the government's role in developing comprehensive training programmes for UAE nationals to increase their competitiveness in the labour market and promote entrepreneurship among young UAE nationals so that they launch and manage small and medium sized enterprises.
Govt Sector Development
The public policies for this sector include four distinct elements: 1- Focus on strategic planning and build an integrated performance management system; 2- Upgrade the civil service system, concentrate on training mid-level managers and emphasise the principles of competency as the main criteria for recruiting, promoting and retaining employees;
3- Develop government services based on international best practices and promoting a culture of excellence in service delivery; 4- Strengthen the e-government programmes, and adopt a new approach to and encourage private sector participation in delivering central services.
Commenting on this section, Shaikh Mohammed said: 'Our vision is that we become one of the best governments in providing quality services, nurturing creative minds, building national talent, innovating solutions and adopting international best practices.
“We want our government's practices to be a benchmark that other countries adopt and emulate'.
Shaikh Mohammed invited government employees to change the existing mindset, and replace it with a culture that spurs creativity, innovation, dedication and productivity. He added: 'New laws and administrative and financial systems and structure will be utilised to nurture this new culture with ministries becoming productive entities competing in performance at the international level.
I have ordered new adjustments to the ministries organisational structures, the establishment of new departments, and modification of to the nomenclature of top positions.
'This is in addition to adopting certain arrangements that are similar to managing board of directors in private sector companies. This will lead to the creation of a culture that fosters institutional decision making and promotes accountability'.
Shaikh Mohammed directed all ministries to establish training plans and leadership development programmes as promotions will be linked solely to productivity and performance, underpinned by complete transparency.
Promotion opportunities will be available for all, with excellent performance earning annual promotions and the ability to reach top positions within a short period of time.
In his address to government employees, he said: 'All federal government employees will be under my personal attention. Every hardworking employee will be rewarded. And I tell them that the prospect for career development and growth is open to all and limitless, provided they are serious loyal and dedicated to serve this country and its citizens'.
Justice and Safety
The Justice and Safety sector includes two main pillars: the judicial system and the National Emergency System.
The major goals set by the government strategy for the judicial system focus to achieve the necessary leap in the system. Main initiatives include developing the needed regulations to entrench the principles of transparency, raising the standards of judicial staff, encouraging the recruitment of qualified UAE nationals and implementing international best practices.
The recommendations include: implementing the most advanced IT programmes to improve judicial records management, amending judicial procedure texts to ensure prompt and efficient judgments, translating regulations and legislations into English, activating the role of the Institute for Judicial Training and Studies and develop partnerships with renowned international judicial institutes and focus on information technology, commercial and financial oriented training.
The strategy will oversee the establishment of a programme that grants judicial, forensic medicine, translation, and other scholarships, both locally and internationally, to UAE national graduates.
In the area of safety, a well knit, comprehensive national emergency strategy that can be implemented at the level of the UAE was developed.
Shaikh Mohammed said: 'We will witness the establishment of a National Emergency Authority that will lay down a comprehensive plan to clearly specify the operations, tools, and responsibilities that secure a proper efficient and coordinated response to all potential national emergencies and threats'.
In his address on infrastructure, Shaikh Mohammed said: 'Despite the state-of-the-art infrastructure the UAE enjoys, certain components of this infrastructure remain under a lot of constraints.
'In the housing sector, we realise that the demand exceeds the capacity of the Shaikh Zayed Housing Programme (SZHP) and other local programmes.
“We are happy with this rising demand because it indicates the growth of UAE families and the emergence of a new generation in the UAE'.
Shaikh Mohammed added: 'The roads and transport area also faces many challenges, as some roads witness very high traffic, leading to high accident rates, especially in the northern emirates.
“We also lack uniform standards and specifications for roads. We need to reconsider the design of some inter-emirate roads and conduct a comprehensive review of all the traffic laws rendering them more effective and deterrents for reckless drivers.'
Recommendations for the infrastructure sector include regulating the different areas within this sector, strengthen policy making in respective ministries and enhancing coordination with the local entities.
An integrated framework to manage water resources and increase the effectiveness of water and electricity usage should be built. In addition to launching widespread awareness campaigns, encouraging the participation of the private sector in promoting the use of renewable energy.
On the environment, Shaikh Mohammed said: 'Environmental awareness should become part of our lives and behaviour. We have to incorporate it in our educational curricula, and modify all specifications and standards of tools, equipment and means of transportation to become environment friendly.'
Shaikh Mohammed highlighted the government's constant support for the rural areas. He said: 'We want the citizens in the rural areas to be active participants in the development process.
“We want them to be equipped with knowledge and technology to be able to keep pace with the rapid changes taking place in the world around them.'
The strategy for developing the rural areas stresses the importance of investment in human resources development, improving living conditions and providing quality basic services.
The strategy also recommends forming a ministerial council for rural areas development, with the responsibilities of planning and supervising projects.
It also recommends establishing local committees to identify local needs and to facilitate the implementation of development plans.
Shaikh Mohammed said: 'We fully realise that success lies not in drawing up plans and strategies but in the ability to implement them. The ministries are currently preparing their own strategies that will be put into effect starting end of June.'
Closing his speech, Shaikh Mohammed addressed all UAE nationals and said: 'You should all shoulder the responsibility of developing your nation.“This strategy is aimed at achieving your own welfare and its success lies primarily in your own hands. Everybody is looking up to you to fulfill your leadership's hopes and expectations and to prove once again that you are ready for change and development, and that you are determined to place the UAE among the most developed countries'.
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