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Reform of Santa Engrácia

Paulo Rego

I remember well the first time I heard about administrative reform. Edmund Ho was in his first term as Chief Executive and spoke about public servants as if he had nothing to do with them, as if they were a foreign body that was not his responsibility. What reform did you carry out? None. He created a series of working groups, adoc, mainly in the areas of gambling and public works and managed the liberalization of gambling, bypassing traditional State structures. He spent his second term, then two of Chui Sai On… and Ho Iat Seng is on his way to the end of his first term, when talk about this eternal priority begins again.

Government officials, whatever the regime, always seem to be in a panic about Public Administration reform. Basically, because this raises dust in your own backyard, causes a series of conflicts and shakes the foundations of the exercise of your own power. Then, because you really need to have an enormous sense of State to do it in the name of efficiency and progress, and not just to guarantee behind-the-scenes arrangements at the Palace and benefits for your closest circles of power. But it is really necessary and, in Macau, it now has the force of a requirement from the Central Power. It was on the list of priorities when Ho Iat Seng took office, having fallen to the ground, as everything else fell during the zero Covid paralysis.

The problem that arises now is another. What reform are we talking about? Mere organization chart arrangements? Improvement of customer service services? Structural changes in the role of the State? Ambition for autonomy – or menus from the Mother Country? Promotion of bilingualism – or its extinction? Internationalization of the economy – or reinforcement of nationalism? It’s not known. In fact, nothing is really discussed about this. Until today, it has never been a priority for governmental reflection; There is no internal debate between employees, whether elite or intermediate, it is definitely not a topic of public debate. And this is not the way to reform. Before doing so, it is necessary to reform this way of thinking about it.

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