Mohammed announces the Federal Government Strategy
In the presence of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum unveiled the UAE Government Strategy on Tuesday.
Their Highnesses the 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. In line with major economic developments in the country, the strategy focuses on implementing best practices in all government sectors to achieve prosperity and to promote the UAE's regional and international status.
In his speech, Sheikh Mohammed said, "The strategy has been developed in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh 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."
Sheikh 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 addresses six sectors: social development; economic development; public sector development; justice and safety; infrastructure and rural development.
Sheikh 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.
"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 legislation 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."
The social development sector includes pre-university education, higher education and scientific research, healthcare, population and labour force, social welfare and development, and culture, youth and community development.
Sheikh 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."
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 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 includes training medical professionals and enhancing emiratisation programmes in this key sector.
The UAE strategy includes the development of mechanisms to address the imbalance in the UAE's population and to decrease the numbers of illegal and marginal labourers.
The strategy also focuses on enhancing emiratisation levels and hiring skilled expatriate workers to help to build the nation's knowledge economy.
Sheikh Mohammed confirmed that emiratisation is a priority in the UAE Federal Government Strategy and said he hoped 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... 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 Federal Government's organisational role and moves the country from the social welfare approach to the social development approach. The strategy will also highlight national identity and sense of belonging, conserving the cultural and intellectual heritage and supporting young people and promoting their role in developing their community.
Sheikh Mohammed pointed out the lack of private sector participation in social welfare programmes and called upon companies and businessmen to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility.
Sheikh Mohammed attributed the negative reports released by international agencies to the failure of some private sector companies to fulfil their responsibilities at a time when corporate social responsibility is becoming an international standard for company performance.
He said the government would work to enhance the private sector's participation and create a reward system for socially responsible companies.
Sheikh Mohammed said, "Our nation has maintained robust economic growth over the past few years... 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 to promote entrepreneurship.
Government Sector Development
The public policies for this sector include a focus on strategic planning and building an integrated performance management system; upgrading the civil service system by training mid-level managers and using competency as the main criteria for recruiting, promoting and retaining employees; developing government services based on international best practices and promoting a culture of excellence in service delivery; strengthening e-government programmes.
Sheikh 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."
Sheikh Mohammed invited government employees to change the existing mindset, and replace it with a culture that spurs creativity, innovation, dedication and productivity.
"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 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."
Sheikh Mohammed directed all ministries to establish training plans and leadership development programmes because promotions will be linked solely to productivity and performance, underpinned by complete transparency.
"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.
Initiatives include developing regulations to promote transparency, raising the standards of judicial staff, encouraging the recruitment of qualified UAE nationals and implementing international best practices.
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 developing partnerships with renowned international judicial institutes and focusing on information technology, commercial and financial training.
The strategy will include establishing a scholarship programme for UAE national graduates who want to study judicial subjects, forensic medicine or translation both locally and internationally.
A comprehensive national emergency strategy was also developed.
"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 Sheikh 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."
"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 include regulating the various areas within this sector, strengthening policy-making in the related ministries, enhancing coordination with local entities and developing an integrated framework to manage water and electricity usage and to promote the use of renewable energy.
"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."
"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 the rural areas includes investing in human resources development, improving living conditions and providing quality basic services. The strategy recommends that a ministerial council for rural areas development be established to plan and supervise projects with local committees to identify local needs.
"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."
In closing, Sheikh Mohammed addressed UAE nationals, saying, "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 fulfil 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."
Tuesday, April 17, 2007