We met Jon for a talk about the public prioritisation of funds.
- As a consultant, what is your role on the questions of prioritisation of funds, in the public sector? “How the public sector is organized and for what purposes we are to spend our community resources, are very complex questions. For instance, which growth areas should be supported by the Danish government and municipalities? How much are we to priorities health over other welfare areas? Should we scale up or down on employees in public authorities and organizations? Answering such questions requires political actions, however, it is rather important that the political discussions take place on a solid, professional and informed basis. In my view, it is necessary to involve external experts that can contribute with neutral inputs to the political discussion of prioritisation of funds.”
- A lot of people connect ‘prioritisation of funds’ in the public sector with cost cutting. Do you agree? “No, not at all. Let me offer you an example from the utility sector, which I dealt with at my previous employer, the Ministry of Finance.
There are many small utility companies in Denmark, which all have a monopoly or at least partial monopoly on delivering their services. We found that the existing regulation of the utility companies was so insufficient in several aspects that the companies had relatively free possibilities of pricing their services – and, as with all monopolies, consumers pay the price for it. It turned out that Danish households and businesses could save billions, in total, on their utility bills – provided of course, that the regulation of utility companies was renewed. Such a regulatory renewal, we found, could potentially spark growth in the Danish economy worth several billions per year. In order to realise that potential, it was necessary to spend resources on developing a completely new regulatory framework for the utility companies. The prioritisation of a new regulation of course meant reduced public spending in other areas, but the cuts in these other areas are more than outweighed by the growth potential in the economy as a whole.”
- There have been many reforms in recent years. Is there a current need for implementing more reforms and changes in the public sector? “Yes, of course! And it is not only important now, it is crucial that we constantly make ongoing priorities and changes in the public sector. The Danes’ wishes and demands for the public sector are changing all the time, and the public sector needs to be able to keep up with the local and global development. Therefore, it is pretty vital that the sector is agile and are prepared to able to reprioritise funds and make reforms that can ensure that the public sector is relevant, innovating and efficient in the future.”