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Streamlining the public sector

Update: February, 15/2014 - 09:22

Moves to downsize the public sector is a move that deserves attention, labour expert Dr Nguyen Huu Dung tells the Khoa hoc and Doi song (Science and Life) newspaper.

What are your comments on the Government draft decree on the downsizing of 100,000 public officials and employees in the coming six years?

I appreciate the government's proposal to streamline the State apparatus. But I'm a little bit worried about who will be among the 100,000 staff to be slashed. From practical experience, we have seen that some people who should be in the list of people to go still remain in the payroll while some staff with good work performance want to quit and work elsewhere.

This situation is like a dark tunnel that has existed for many years.

Cutting 100,000 people from the payroll totally fits with the current situation when our state budget is shrinking. Downsizing has been the goal of our public administration reform efforts for decades.

What are your opinions about the figure chosen - 100,000?

The figure 100,000 is very catchy. It is too early to say whether it is too small or too big. But if the decree is actually implemented, I think it will help improve our public service, which will become more effective and efficient.

Some people have argued that the document should not come up with such a specific figure - 100,000 people. The actual number should be based on the actual situation of each office/agency. How would you respond to that?

Instead of talking general about slashing the staff, the figure provides us with a target we can strive to reach. Furthermore, the figure 100,000 demonstrates the government's resolve to make the state apparatus clean and more efficient. If in the next six years, we are actually able to reduce 100,000 public employees, it will be a success for us.

As I have mentioned above, there is a reason behind the figure of 100,000 introduced in the draft decree.

No doubt, the figure is strongly related to financial issues, to test if the State budget can be balanced. In my opinion, the figure is not a static goal. It can be flexible.

Implementation of the decree requires VND 8,000 billion. What's your comment?

I think it's acceptable. If the redundant staff stay on, the state budget will have to pay more for their salaries, and the state apparatus will continue to be inefficient.

Do you think that the decree will become reality?

I think it is only an initial step. Slashing public employees in our country is a very tough and sensitive issue.

Why do you say so?

As it touches upon the issue of employment, it touches upon the affected people's interests. Though many people have complained about the low salary, many people keep applying for positions in State agencies and offices. So there must be some obvious interest in such positions.

The other issue, which is very sensitive, is nepotism. The relationships between staff members who are relatives have become a very hard issue to deal with.

I just want to say, everyone has his or her own reasons. Faced with such a situation, the "give and take" principle is applied!

This is not the first time the government has come up with a decision to slash the number employees who are on the government's payroll. What lessons should we learn from the past?

I have read the draft decree. However after reading it, I didn't see anything new in it, particularly on measures to solve the barriers that I have mentioned above.

It is too early for me to say that I'm optimistic about the draft decree.

In my opinion, what we should do now is to review the implementation of Decree 132 to draw lessons learned.

Slashing the number of public employees should be considered a situational and temporary measure.

If we want to make our public administration and public service effective and efficient it is imperative to have breakthrough measures.

What are the breakthrough measures we need?

The slashing of public employees should be put in the context of the ongoing restructuring process. We have to build a modern public service system which is effective and efficient.

And of course, the salaries paid to the civil servants should reflect the performance they render. What's more important, the staff's designation should be based on their expertise and performance.

Last but not least, the recruitment criteria should be set carefully so that only capable people stay. — VNS


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