Public sector employees need more incentives

World Bank (WB) support in building Mozambique's public sector has been "satisfactory", but it has been less effective in strengthening human capacity, according to an evaluation report.

Mozambique is one of six country case studies undertaken by the Operations Evaluation Department (OED) of the WB to assess the relevance and effectiveness of its support for public sector capacity building in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 10 years.

The case study concentrated on four focal areas: education, health, roads and public financial management.

The OED found that while the WB had been "good at identifying sector development needs and constraints", it has been unable to address human capacity needs. For example, the social sectors - education and health - saw policy and planning improvements, but have been losing many of its better-trained staff to the private sector, which offered better salaries and opportunities.

Mozambique has ended up with a "highly fragmented and distorted market for skilled labour", said the report.

A project to address human capacity development by means of a new salary structure, decentralised service delivery, strengthening new systems of expenditure management and accountability, among other measures, was recently put in place. "But the project has taken time to get underway and its effective cannot yet be assessed," noted OED.

The WB played a key role in the 1990s in helping Mozambique reform its macroeconomic policies, and build public sector capacity in related areas of public financial management after it emerged from 12 years of civil war.

Although the political transition to a parliamentary multiparty system had been "smooth and successful, public administration remains weak, performance of the legal and judicial systems is poor, and corruption is widespread", noted the OED report.

"People are becoming more vocal in demanding services and rights, which suggests that processes are evolving more smoothly than in many other African countries," the report commented.

Improvements in physical infrastructure, such as roads, have provided people with better access to markets and other services, and the WB's support in building roads had been most effective.

The Ministry of Public Works, with a great deal of assistance from WB, drew up a national transport sector strategy that included prioritising roads in need of repair, a plan for promoting private sector contractors and employment opportunities provided by the sector, among other issues.

The strategy was aligned with the national goal of promoting agricultural development in those districts with the highest potential.

Substantial progress had also been made in the education sector since the war ended in 1992 - at least 97 percent of the school network has been rebuilt, while literacy rates have risen from 22 to 34 percent by expanding the number of schools and total enrolment. However, less progress has been made in higher education, noted the OED.

The education policy is now focused on developing a strategic plan for higher education, extending primary education, and raising gross enrolment.

Progress in implementing the health policy has moved "unevenly" as a result of more than one minister holding the portfolio.

The government produced several strategies with priorities that were neither clear nor consistent, especially regarding capacity building issues. "This has reinforced poorly coordinated donor assistance."

Mozambique achieved the fastest economic growth rate - eight percent - in Africa between 1994 and 2002. "The government's tight control over spending and money supply, combined with financial sector reform, successfully reduced inflation from 70 percent in 1994 to around 10 percent currently."

Despite its impressive growth performance, Mozambique remains one of the world's poorest countries.