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Chief executive says cuts not the answer to Mfat concerns

Cost pressures facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) are not likely to be addressed by cutting services, the ministry's chief executive says.A State Services Commission (SSC) report released today said a review of Mfat had uncovered weak

NZPA
Wed, 22 Sep 2010

Cost pressures facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) are not likely to be addressed by cutting services, the ministry's chief executive says.

A State Services Commission (SSC) report released today said a review of Mfat had uncovered weaknesses that were likely to affect the effectiveness of the department in the future.

The ministry was rated as weak over the efficiency of its financial and resource management, with reviewers commenting that it must "urgently identify opportunities for cost reduction."

"When asked what their response would be if required to make material savings, several staff responses were along the lines of 'we would just work that much harder'. Such an approach is neither sustainable, nor strategic," the report said.

The review also addressed Mfat's international focus, saying more attention needed to be paid to fast-growing converging market economies, particularly in New Zealand's region.

"With limited resources at its disposal, it will be important that New Zealand identifies and focuses on its foreign policy priorities.

"Mfat will need to develop the capability to successfully engage its key stakeholders in difficult decisions about where New Zealand's offshore effort should be focused and, most importantly, what it will not do."

Mfat chief executive John Allen told NZPA he did not expect to have to cut current services to address concerns raised by the review.

"What it's saying is that we're going to have to change, not to cut," Mr Allen said.

"Clearly there are cost pressures across the public service and this ministry's no different ..... It's also really clear we need to be doing more to be heard on the world stage, so I think that means we've got to be much more strategic and much more focused."

Mr Allen said he did not believe New Zealand would have to forgo relations with some countries to build better relations with regional nations.

"What I do believe we do have to do is to get much more strategic in understanding what we're looking to deliver in all countries and be really clear we're not going to have a one-size-fits-all representation model," he said.

"We have to have an understanding market by market, geography by geography, what it is New Zealand's looking to achieve in its engagement with that particular country or in that particular region.

"The question is how can New Zealand be represented in more places around the world without spending more money, because we won't have it."

NZPA
Wed, 22 Sep 2010
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Chief executive says cuts not the answer to Mfat concerns
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