Welcome Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann,
UN Resident Coordinator a.i. & UNDP Resident Representative,
21 February 2019, Government House
Excellency, Mr. U.Khurelsukh, Prime Minister of Mongolia
Excellency, L.Oyun-Erdene, State Minister& Chief of Cabinet Secretariat
Representatives from State ministries, agencies, from aimags, soums and khoroos,
Good morning – I am honored to join you for this important meeting, towards a Mongolian civil service that serves every citizen.
Civil servants – including local leaders from aimag, soums and khoroos present here today – are foundations of the country’s progress. They tackle the government’s most urgent tasks and put its promises into action. They supply the services everyone counts on – like healthcare and education – and turn national visions into local realities.
The new civil service law that took effect on January 1st aims to create a stable, neutral and professional civil service force that is equipped to deliver high-quality public services to the people of Mongolia. You are the frontline of that goal.
I commend Mongolia’s Parliament, Cabinet Secretariat and Civil Service Council for the impressive efforts and progress in activating this law. Most procedures and bylaws needed for it to take full effect are now approved (28 out of 47). A nationwide survey was also recently undertaken, assessing how prepared public sector organizations and civil servants are for the new Civil Service Law. This generated a wealth of data on public sector human resource management and the level of essential technical knowledge among civil servants.
UNDP are happy to see this progress and be a part of these important steps towards civil service reform. But the real test still lies ahead, and that is its implementation. Change must be led from the top, and reach every level. Above all, it must be carried out in a way that builds trust.
Across the world, governments are struggling to meet citizens’ expectations and restore public trust deficits. People are increasingly questioning their leaders and are demanding performance and accountability.
A professional, modern and efficient civil service builds public trust and confidence. How civil servants and politicians interact with citizens, including openness to their participation in decision-making, directly affects how citizens perceive government legitimacy. Promoting rule of law and bureaucratic fairness are crucial steps that governments can take to raise trust. To boost transparency and accountability, checks and balances are needed. For example, empowering citizens to participate in public processes by monitoring delivery of services. The citizen budget pioneered by the Min of Finance is a good example in this regard. And the civil service must also be representative of all citizens to earn their trust, including women and youth.
To build trust, the civil service must be based on merit and ethics. These goals are embedded in the Civil Service Law, but must also be translated beyond policy declarations, through enforceable human resource management rules at all levels. This includes how civil servants are selected, appointed, promoted, evaluated, rewarded and sanctioned, as well as codes of conduct.
There is much to be gained. When civil servants are recruited and promoted based on merit, staff pride, motivation and performance jumps, while corruption falls, leading meritocracies to deliver higher quality and more efficient services.
Mongolia needs a system that supports these outcomes at every level. One in which entrance and promotion is based on competition, rather than connections. And that protects civil servants from being arbitrarily removed.
I welcome the Government’s decision to make this year’s top priority a citizen-centred civil service. Equipping civil servants with the skills they need to fulfill this mandate and do their jobs with confidence is key to achieving that.
To enable this, UNDP has supported the Academy of Management to reform the training curriculum. In both public and private sectors, managers are increasingly expected to possess so-called ‘soft’ skills – like managing relationships, building consensus, organizing, communicating and working in teams. I hope the training for civil servants is transformed to develop these attributes in all public managers.
The Parliament Secretariat with UNDP & Swiss support recently commissioned a joint study, to see how effectively the Law on Administrative Units and their Governance (LATUG) was carried out. The key recommendation is to strengthen soums, and decentralize powers and resources from aimags and the capital towards soums and districts, so they can deliver government services to citizens most effectively. Members of Parliament have voiced support to take the recommendation forward & it is hoped that the LATUG revision can be passed during the current term of the Great Hural to complement civil service reform efforts.
UNDP has a long tradition of supporting Mongolia’s civil service, since its transition to democracy. And we are proud to be part of this new chapter in its reform today. I thank the Canadian Government for its generous funding in this latest joint initiative, which will continue til 2022, to equip Mongolia’s civil service to deliver efficient, high quality services to the public.
You may be the leader of one small town. But you are also a vital part in a nationwide – and worldwide – effort: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 aim to end poverty, narrow inequality and ensure our future on earth. Those goals, which Mongolia is committed to, aim to leave no one behind. And that calls for a civil service that delivers for everyone.
The key to development that is sustainable and includes every Mongolian lies in each of you. I wish you all positive discussions towards unlocking this great potential.