By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Does Cuepacs understand the government's financial situation? The country has been having a fiscal deficit for 15 consecutive years and the administrative expenses have accounted for 76% of the total expenses. The situation will be further worsened if the welfare of civil servants continues to improved.
The country has never treated much less than the 1.4 million civil servants should decently do.
In 2007, the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi announced a pay rise by 35% and living allowance rise by 100% for civil servants. On March 8 this year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the withdrawal of the Public Service New Remuneration Scheme (SBPA) while the Malaysian Remuneration System (SSM) will be reintroduced with improvements. Also, civil servants will receive an annual pay increase from 7% - 13% and an additional RM50 of living allowance. At the same time, the exit policy meant to enhance the efficiency of civil servants and dismiss those with poor performance has been canceled.
It can be said that civil servants have received all the benefits, but have no plan to pay back. In particular, the authority resists to deal with civil servants with substandard performance. And now, it issued a six-point wishlist for the government to consider in the 2013 Budget, including asking for more than a month of bonus and an increment for the current RM 180 monthly housing rental allowances.
Despite the Treasury has failed to make ends meet, the government might still meet some of the demands to avoid losing votes from civil servants.
The pay rise in March this year has consumed more than RM6 billion while the half-month or at least RM500 bonus distributed in August consumed RM2.2 billion. Therefore, the government is unlikely to distribute bonus of more than a month. At most, it would probably announce a half-month or at least RM500 bonus, just like last year.
There might also be a symbolic adjustment to the monthly housing rental allowances. As for the demand of affordable urban housing for civil servants, the government has introduced the Skim Rumah Mampu Milik and thus, it is not a problem to include civil servants into the purchaser list.
However, Cuepacs' demand of an announcement on whether to maintain the SSM or implement a better remuneration system made us wonder whether it means that civil servants are asking for another remuneration system to increase the pay.
Cuepacs is willing to get civil servants to agree on putting in additional 30 minutes of work daily as a gesture of commitment if the demands are met. However, could the productivity of the addition 30 minutes of working hour cover the government's additional expenses?
The 2012 Budget allocates RM232.8 billion for government plans, setting the highest record so far. However, development expenses could not be increased as RM181.6 billion was allocated for management. With the gradually rising civil servant salaries and benefits, the management expenses will continue eroding the development funds. Cuepacs should not ask for more at this juncture.
To control the deficit and debt, the government can only spend a limited amount of money. After allocating a large sum to civil servants, the people can get only crumbs, not even a piece of cake.
The 2013 Budget would be the last Budget before the next general election. What should the government do to take care of so many people? The BN, after all, cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.