The Finance Ministry should be overhauled to make its policymaking more transparent and efficient and to boost staff morale, an ad hoc ministry panel said Friday.
In a report submitted to Finance Minister Hikaru Matsunaga, the blue-ribbon council said the ministry should hold ethics seminars regularly for senior officials to prevent further scandals.
The panel, launched in April amid a bribery scandal involving ministry officials, made the proposals in a bid to resuscitate the ill-functioning ministry, which has faced severe criticism for scandals and poor economic management in recent years.
The report urges the ministry to disclose policy drafts and hear opinions from outside to secure transparency in the policymaking process. Showing policy options with easy-to-understand simulations is also important for public discussions to take place, it says.
The ministry should create positions specifically to respond to questions and complaints over the phone, it adds.
To cope with highly specialized work, the ministry should consider hiring people from outside and exchange staff with academic and private institutions, according to the report. Appropriate officials should be given opportunities to acquire doctorates for instance, so that they can become internationally competitive.
The ministry should diversify schools from which it employs graduates for elite positions, the report says. At present, most career officials are from the University of Tokyo.
The report recommends that the ministry invite “world-famous” economists to serve as senior staff in order to reinforce its research function.
The 15-strong panel, headed by Ryuzo Sejima, special adviser to a major trading house, includes scholars, business leaders and chief executives of influential newspapers. They met 11 times for discussions and hearings since April 27.
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