15 May 2007

Civil servants should accept quantum

The Star

CIVIL servants should accept the quantum of their request for a salary revision when it is ready. They must also give the Government sufficient time to consider the recommendations of the Public Service Department (PSD).

While Cuepacs, the civil service unions' umbrella body, is hoping for a quick answer, it should realise that what it is asking for will have a huge impact on the public purse.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his Cabinet colleagues and PSD officials would also like to settle this as quickly as possible.

At the same time, they also have to act in a responsible manner, as serious financial implications are involved. If the results can be known this week, then good luck to them.

As the whole public service is affected, the public can rest assured that those in charge will work overtime when it comes to their own interests.

Otherwise, the civil servants will likely take their own sweet time when dealing with problems affecting members of the public. This is one of the major complaints against them. The public certainly would not like them to be rewarded financially for such tardy service.

There is little doubt that even government leaders, including Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, are far from satisfied with the present delivery system by the public sector.

Therefore, the Government and the public expect that any such adjustments must be tied to higher productivity to a certain degree.

While performance and efficiency may be difficult to quantify, the best judge of this will be public reaction. If there is any improvement in services, customers will be the first to feel it.

Should there be fewer employees, it may be simpler for the Government to pay them better, provided they continue to ensure satisfactory service. With over a million of them, the situation will be magnified.

No one will grudge them more pay if they show greater commitment in their given tasks. At the same time, the PSD must instil in them the importance of multi-tasking.

This means they must be trained and prepared to help out in other areas outside of their own when necessary.

There is nothing more frustrating than for those seeking information or to pick up documents to be told that this was not possible because the person in charge was either off, on leave, or attending a course.

If workers are trained to work on any assignment in the section, then they could take over to clear the paperwork, and not upset the public who may have taken time off to collect their documents.

Therefore, it is not just a question of clearing all their files or just completing their daily quota but to help out if another colleague is absent for whatever reason.

They should not just stick to their own work even if there should be a shortage in personnel in another section.

For example, if there is a big crowd, then more counters should be opened, instead of just one or two because some of the frontline workers are on leave. The convenience of the public must always come first.

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