G25: Downsize civil service now, don’t wait for financial crisis

G25 member Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim says the VSS should be implemented on civil servants whose functions have been made redundant by technology. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
G25 member Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim says the VSS should be implemented on civil servants whose functions have been made redundant by technology. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 ― G25 urged the government today to immediately plan a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) for the bloated civil service instead of waiting for a financial crisis that would affect public servants worse.

G25 member Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim, who is also former secretary-general of the Finance Ministry, said the VSS should be implemented on civil servants whose functions have been made redundant by technology.

“If it takes some years for the government to recover the heavy expenditure of the separation scheme, then it is worth it,” Mohd Sheriff said in a statement.

“We can hope that with smaller government, the economy as a whole will become more efficient and with dynamism and growth in private sector activities, the government will collect more taxes to recover the cost of separation scheme.

“With less spending on wages and pensions as a proportion of the budget, there will be more room in the operating expenditure to spend on upgrading the facilities in schools, universities, hospitals, research departments which today do not get enough budgetary allocations to keep them in proper working conditions,” he added.

Mohd Sheriff suggested that redundant government employees be retrained by giving them free skills courses, such as on computers, English, basic accounting and corporate law.

He also suggested that for married couples who are both working in the civil service, one of them can get a VSS package of RM40,000 for 20 years of service, noting that in most cases among lower-income earners, either husband or wife would be doing part-time business like selling clothes or food.

“The chances are one of them will take the package, while the other one will continue to work in the government until retirement to enjoy the medical benefits for the whole family. Thus, the government is helping the Malay wife or husband to become an entrepreneur, a genuine one because they have a track record,” said Mohd Sheriff.

The member of the group of retired high-ranking civil servants mooted a much smaller administrative service to support government ministries and departments.

“This can be achieved by decentralising and empowering of authority to reduce the multi-layer approval process,” he said.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani reportedly said last month that Malaysia has about 1.6 million civil servants, with one civil servant to 19.37 people in the population, making it the world’s largest proportion of civil service.

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