Forced retirements not the answer for civil service

July 07, 2018 - 09:00

Senior public servants in the central coastal city of Đà Nẵng are likely to receive support of VNĐ200 million (around US$8,900) if they volunteer for early retirement.

By Hồng Minh

Senior public servants in the central coastal city of Đà Nẵng are likely to receive support of VNĐ200 million (around US$8,900) if they volunteer for early retirement.

This comes after a new initiative on personnel reforms was announced last week.

The move is said to encourage those feel they cannot contribute anymore and would be willing to step down and let younger employees take their place.

According to the city’s Department of Home Affair’s draft resolution that is scheduled to submit at the People’s Council meeting next week, male civil servants from 55 years old and 50 years old woman would be eligible for the deal. Once approved, the new policy will take effect from August.

But one must wonder is 55 and 50 years old really time to retire? As the world evolves at a fast pace, people are living longer and indeed working longer.

While it is clear the city wants to bring in a new generation to take the civil service to the next level, but surely they still have plenty to learn? And who better to teach them, than those with experience, the old guard.

So maybe, those in power, should try and find a solution that satisfies everyone?

There may be some in those positions who feel that it is time to call it a day. They may want to spend more time at home, with their families, children, and grandchildren.

But then there’s the other side too, those who still believe they have a lot to offer, despite being in their fifties.

Trần Tuấn Lợi, a delegate of Đà Nẵng People’s Council, said in order to retain the elderly but diligent staff do a good job, the draft insists the decision for them to retire must be approved by management.  

Lợi added the city had already identified 37 younger staff ready to step into their shoes when they retire.

But would the city’s plan really work?

Reforming the State agencies and developing a contingency of future civil servants to raise the efficiency has been implemented strongly in cities and provinces throughout the country, as manifested in the Resolution on personnel work of the 7th plenary meeting of the 12th Central Committee that concluded in May this year.

This is an urgent task, but it is also a difficult one.

These are decisions that not only affect the civil service moving forward, but will also affect people who have dedicated their lives to the cause.

There are more older staff than younger ones. And in time, there will be a need for a shake-up to bring in the new blood who are eager and willing to take the Party, the country forward.

This is nothing new, and many cities and provinces around the country are looking at ways they can modernise their departments.

Đà Nẵng has decided the best way to do this is for those of a certain age to step aside and give up their seats.

Wait! Doesn’t that contradict to the national campaign of reducing the State payroll?  

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are four million people on the State payroll. A resolution signed by Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng in October last year set the target to reduce that number by at least 10 per cent in 2025. That’s 400,000 people.

So in Đà Nẵng, a senior voluntarily steps down some years earlier than scheduled, received a cash payout, and a younger official takes his place.

I wonder what is the point.

Surely the best way forward would be to sort the wheat from the chaff? Get rid of those not pulling their weight and keep the best – no matter their age.

That way, those young guns with a promising career ahead of them will be identified, and can use their early years wisely, by learning from the best, those older, and certainly wiser.

It is even more dangerous to place those with weak morals in important positions.

It is an age-old adage that in life we should respect our elders. But it’s not just about respect. Our elders have been there, done it, and worn the T-shirt. They have so much to teach and we have so much to learn.

While there is no doubt that costs need cutting and savings need to be made, is the answer really to punish someone just because they have reached a certain age in life?

Sure, if they want to go, then go. Voluntary redundancy is exactly that, voluntary. If a person wants to leave, give him or her a handshake, toast a glass of wine and bid them farewell, with the money that’s offered.

But if they are providing a valuable service to the department they should be cherished, not shunned. Why? Because they have so much to teach, and we have so much to learn, whatever ages we all are. — VNS