Fiji Opposition Calls Civil Service Reform Effort 'A Waste Of Time'

MP Biman Prasad: Adopting private sector principles will create 'fear of job losses'

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 8, 2017) – The Opposition has labelled the State's reform of the civil service as a "waste of time".

Responding to an update provided to Parliament by the Minister for Civil Service, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, on the reforms, National Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad said the reforms created fear of job losses within the civil service.

"When you talk about open merit system, when you talk about principles of human resource in the private sector, you can get some principles from the private sector and apply it in the public sector," Prof Prasad said.

He told Parliament that Government was not a private company. Government ran on an independent, transparent, secure, motivated civil service.

"They (Government) themselves have created a situation over the last several years where the civil servants don't feel secure, comfortable and they're not sure about their future," he said.

Prof Prasad said he was not sure whether the open merit system in the public service was going to work in the long run.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Government had instigated changes to the system of recruitment and selection in January 2016.

"These changes were also authorised to the public service commission's guidelines to permanent secretaries to ensure enforcement of open merit entry to the service at any level and more robust and reliable methodology for assessing applicants in making appropriate appointments."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also confirmed that the job evaluation exercise which included a comprehensive review and modernisation of the salary scale and associated terms and conditions of employment would begin in the next few weeks.

"Cabinet has approved that civil servant salaries must be benchmarked to at least 75 per cent of the private sector.

"We have further confirmed that there will be no job losses to the job evaluation exercise.

"All civil servants can expect some improvement in their current remuneration package. Acknowledging that this is a very different approach to the old way of percentage increase across the board, we believe that benchmarking of the remuneration to the private sector will better enable the civil service to compete with the private sector for talent and more fairly remunerate staff for the job they do."

Fiji Times Online.
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