Thursday, April 19, 2007

Finger on the pulse

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid not only has his finger on the pulse of what goes on, he tells it like it is, he pulls no punches.

And he talks an awful lot of sense - what a shame others in positions of power and authority don't have his talents. And, as I've said on several occasions before, what a pity that things don't happen as they should until Sheikh Mohammed becomes personally involved.

In his capacity as Prime Minister of the UAE he announced a new three year development strategy at a major meeting of more than 1,000 high-level government and business leaders. And he really laid into the performance of some of the ministries.

Photo: WAM

He made the point that huge sums have been invested in various areas with very little result, something that many of us have talked about for some time. The vision is there, the money is there, the talent and the will to make it happen to the required standard are all too often lacking.
The problem, said Sheikh Mohammed, was not a lack of funding, but rather a lack of implementation.

Picking out the Education Ministry in particular he said: "...despite the huge spending, the outcome has remained far below our aspirations...It is a culture that is content with identifying problems, finding solutions and announcing them in the media without any sort of implementation"

That would be true of other ministries and departments too. A lot of money, a lot of talk, very little actually done or done properly.

He picked out for criticism education, health and justice. And he also criticised the Ministry of Labour on Emiratisation.

As you would expect, it's got all of them jumping, just as his blitz on the roads and police had them suddenly getting on with the job a few weeks ago. This morning, Emirates Today has the story "Ministers pledge to achieve the Government Strategy objectives."

Some more notable quotes from Sheikh Mohammed's speech:

"The budget for education has increased annually for the past 20 years and has been accompanied with several plans, projects, suggestions, policies and promises. Yet, the outcome has constantly been weakening. Even when education officials decided to restrict public schools to UAE national students, the education budget remained on the rise, expenditure per student increased yet the outcome did not improve."

On Emiratisation:

"It is very easy to impose Emiratisation. We can do this any time, but what would we gain if we did not provide our youth with the best knowledge, skill and expertise to commensurate with these jobs?"

He criticised the Minister of Labour, who has issued a number of decrees to Emiratise certain jobs - such as secretarial positions and public relation officers - within two years. "I appreciate his dedication and enthusiasm, but his decisions were not successful because they ignored reality as well as the nation's priorities."

And he also covered something that many of us talked about at the time it was announced:

Shaikh Mohammad said the same applies to the decree on Emiratising the positions of human resource managers within 18 months. "However, if we decide to place UAE nationals in such positions, we have to make sure we provide them with the required knowledge and expertise. Our success in achieving this goal is tied to the extent we develop UAE skills and talents."

Then he focused on the Ministry of Justice:

"I have read the reports of the justice and safety ministerial team and did field trips to the courts and the ministry of justice. I was surprised and expressed my utmost dissatisfaction with what I read and saw. It was living 20 years behind [other ministries]." Shaikh Mohammad warned: "We will not allow this to continue. We will not accept that people's cases and rights get stuck in courts, in a long sequence of useless procedures."

Gulf News yesterday covered the announcement over three full pages and it makes fascinating reading. You can go to the full articles at these sites:

Investing more money not always the answer.

Development plan unveiled.

A balanced diet for sustainable growth.

Ministry of Justice is 20 years behind .

Call for cautious Emiratisation.

Legislative framework weak.

Ministries will be run like corporations.

The Emirates Today story is here: Ministers pledge to achieve the Government Strategy objectives.

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