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Election Watch

Civil Service: Improve efficiency to boost economy

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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