Source: The New Straits Times
Date: 29 December 2011
THE Public Service Department (PSD) and Cuepacs deserve a pat on the back for concluding an agreement so quickly after the prime minister intervened to ask for an early settlement of the dispute.
It turned out to be a New Year's gift to the 1.4 million government employees, which we hope will benefit the nation and the public, too.
However, there are some public concerns that the "on the spot amendments" made during the hurried negotiations may not have adequately taken into account the high price that we have paid for improvements in the Public Service New Remuneration Scheme (SBPA).
Firstly, the apparent improvements to SBPA are actually concessions made to Cuepacs, to reduce the Annual Performance Evaluation Report marks, from 75 per cent to 65 per cent, for a salary increase.
This means that the PSD has sacrificed the performance targets to make it easier for civil servants to qualify for salary increments.
The public will legitimately ask whether this lowering of performance standards justifes higher tax expenditures.
Secondly, another major concession given to Cuepacs is to lower the marks for the Exit Policy (that is leaving the service for inefficiency, from 70 per cent to 60 per cent.
The duration of poor performance is also now extended to 12 months from the earlier proposed six months.
The question that the public will raise is why we should tolerate poor performance at 60 per cent and why for as long as one whole year?
However, the agreement to hold joint consultations every three months is laudable.
This move will enable more opportunities to encourage Cuepacs to come up with ways and means of raising quality standards in the public service, instead of concentrating mainly on salary increases.
These consultations should additionally improve public sector employer/employee relations and understanding of good governance and, hopefully, reduce financial wastage and corruption.
It is hoped that during these quarterly consultations, the Government will also brief Cuepacs' leaders on the performance of the economy.
This broader consultative approach will help to enhance Cuepacs' appreciation that more concessions and subsidies will not help us achieve our Vision 2020 goals.
Cuepacs must realise that unless civil servants' productivity and efficiency improve, the economy will be burdened with larger budget deficits and more debts.
Our economic progress and sustainability must be protected, just like our security and defence, at all costs.
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