KUALA LUMPUR – January 3, 2017: Cuepacs has described the suggestion to reduce the number of civil servants as utterly ridiculous, especially since it would be costly to the government in the long run.
The argument by its president Datuk Azih Muda is that someone has to do the work these civil servants do, so to downsize would mean to outsource the work to private companies.
“Who are these people? What is their problem? First they complain about the government not hiring enough civil servants and now this?” Azih lashed out at those who are in favour of a smaller civil service.
Despite reports stating that there are currently 1.6 million civil servants, Azih pointed out that in reality there are only 500,000 actual civil servants. The rest are public school teachers, police, soldiers and medical staff.
Azih also argued that it is unfair for people to complain about having too many civil servants because the four categories are usually not categorised as civil servants in other countries.
“So are they trying to say that we should also trim down the number of teachers, police, soldiers and medical staff?
“Or maybe they want the government to cut down the 500,000 who are serving 30 million Malaysians at hundreds of local councils, government agencies and statutory bodies?” Azih rhetorically asked.
The suggestion for the government to reduce the numbers of civil servants was highlighted on Wednesday by blogger Zakhir Mohamad or Big Dog.
In a post entitled The Cost of Manja, Zahir said it is timely for the government to do so as the cost of maintaining the civil service as it is now is too high.
“To pay the civil service costs Malaysian taxpayers RM93 billion or 35.8% of annual budget.
“That is 78 per cent of the RM118 billion revenue collected by the Inland Revenue Board,” he wrote, adding that having a high civil service bill is not a good indicator of a newly developed nation.
The Mole talked to several economic analysts and according to them there are ways for the government to cut its operating expenditure without riling up civil servants.
Binary University Professor Dr. Zulkifli Senteri said the government should intensify its efforts in the development of entrepreneurship by way of revising the curriculum of public schools and universities.
“Entrepreneurship should be taught here. That way, graduates will be less dependent on the government for job opportunities.
“Plus, this will also decrease the rate of unemployment,” said Zulkifli.
Reducing the retirement age for civil servants, is another way for the government to save money.
He however doubts if the government has the political will to downsize the civil service.
Another analyst, Professor Hoo Ke Ping, suggests that the government try to reduce policies, investments and developments that have slow multiplier effect.
“The government should not disturb the emolument of civil servants as that has a direct and fast multiplier effect which is important to the growth of our GDP (growth domestic product)
“But investments like infrastructure take a longer time to contribute to the country’s GDP.
“So, if they (the government) really want to cut down their opex, then these are things that the government can choose to cut down,” said the independent macro-economic analyst.
However, unlike Zakhir, Hoo argued that the government’s opex is not the only indicator of the country’s economy.
“The government’s direct contribution to the country’s economic growth is only 7 per cent. The rest of the growth is all from the private sector,” said Hoo.