Executive Summary

The government of Paraguay has identified public governance reform as an important tool for implementing the objectives in its National Development Plan (NDP) “Building the Paraguay of 2030” (Construyendo el Paraguay del 2030). This multi-year, multidimensional strategic plan, formulated in 2014, aims to address the country’s key challenges and articulates the government’s strategic long-term development vision. The NDP frames the engagement of the executive branch with other levels of government, civil society, the private sector and the legislative and judicial branches. The NDP seeks to create a “democratic, supportive state, subsidiary, transparent and geared towards the provision of equal opportunities”.

This Public Governance Review examines governance reform themes identified as priorities by Paraguay for bolstering the state’s strategic agility to set, steer and operationalise its National Development Plan. These themes reflect the following considerations:

  • Paraguay wishes to develop a whole-of-government vision for the country’s public sector that is shared by all ministries, secretariats, public companies and decentralised agencies.

  • To date, Paraguay has not undertaken a comprehensive public administration reform programme with a holistic approach. In the past, reforms were implemented according to emerging needs and/or in the light of international commitments assumed by the government. Often, reforms were limited to the creation of bodies and agencies that could only address specific issues.

  • An important number of institutions has been created since 1989; most remain relatively weak and cannot effectively exercise the role that the Constitution affords them. The government wishes to strengthen these institutions so that they can fulfil their mandates more effectively.

  • The co-ordination of public policies among the branches of the state, within the executive branch, and with subnational governments needs to be improved. The government needs agile, efficient and politically viable mechanisms for public policy co-ordination.

  • Paraguay has been characterised throughout its history as highly centralised, both politically and administratively.

  • There is resistance by some institutions and political actors to move towards a modern, merit-based, transparent recruitment system for public servants. The government wishes to implement such a system throughout the public administration and at all levels of government.

  • Creating a stronger and more resilient institutional framework at all the levels of the state for implementing laws, regulations and development strategies is a priority of the government. Such a framework could help prevent policy capture and ensure that institutions are not “overrun” by stakeholders with vested political and economic interests.

  • Paraguay aims to create an administration that is focused on peoples’ needs. The government acknowledged that in many sectors public servants still believe that they are the owners of public resources.

Taking into account these considerations, this Public Governance Review provides the following recommendations to the government of Paraguay:

  • Enhance whole-of-government co-ordination efforts led by the centre of government, enabling it to articulate integrated, multi-dimensional policy responses to the increasingly complex challenges faced by the country and its people.

  • Better link the budgeting process to different policy priorities, including the National Development Plan 2030, to ensure that reforms for inclusive growth are fully funded.

  • Adopt a coherent, strategic approach to regional development through more effective decentralisation and better multi-level governance. Such an approach will help ensure that policies are tailored to the circumstances and conditions in different regions of Paraguay and meet citizens’ needs across territories characterised by acute regional disparities.

  • Move towards more modern human resources management practices so that the public service is able to address the specificities of the country’s development challenges.

  • Develop a more open, transparent, accountable and participatory government in order to ensure that policies adequately reflect the population’s needs.

Taken together, the Review’s assessments provide a coherent, holistic picture of the governance reform needs of the Paraguayan public sector. The Review includes detailed policy recommendations based on international best practices that, if implemented, would help Paraguay achieve its reform objectives and become a more modern, agile, effective and efficient state capable of designing and delivering better policies – through better governance – for better lives.