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Regions balk at downsizing plan

Jakarta Post - June 8, 2016

Severianus Endi, Fadli, Nethy Dharma Somba, Jakarta/Pontianak/Batam/Jayapura – The Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry's proposals to reduce the number of civil servants has sparked a furore in local administrations across the country.

West Kalimantan Employment Agency head Kartius questioned the central government's plan on Tuesday, insisting that the number of public servants in the province remained inadequate.

The central government's moratorium on recruitment of civil servants is groundless, he said, and had forced the West Kalimantan provincial administration to pay for the services of around 2,000 non-contract staff. "Currently, we have around 6,200 civil servants, but half of them are approaching retirement age," Kartius said.

Riau Islands administration spokesperson Raja Hery Mokhrizal said the province, which employs 2,000 civil servants, was short of officials qualified to take up the headships of agencies.

"Many high-echelon civil servants who previously filled the positions have retired. While there are plenty of apparently suitable candidates to replace them, it turns out that many simply don't have the required competencies to lead an agency," Mokhrizal told The Jakarta Post.

Batam municipality spokesperson Ardiwinata said the city was short of civil servants in its education and health services.

Meanwhile, Papua administration secretary Hery Dosinaen said Governor Lukas Enembe disagreed with the ministry's plan, as the province needed more civil servants for the 29 regions and cities in the country's easternmost region.

The Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry made headlines on Saturday after broaching the idea to downsize the public service, including by offering early retirement to civil servants deemed surplus to requirements.

Ministry spokesman Herman Suryatman said the plan was in line with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's pledge to revamp the country's bureaucracy, as stipulated in a 2015 administrative and bureaucratic reform minister's decree.

The President said on Tuesday that the plan was aimed at cutting spending on civil servants' salaries and allowances.

"The plan to downsize the bureaucracy is aimed at increasing the quality of public services. In consequence, we will be able to spend the budget more efficiently," Jokowi said, adding that he had not, however, received any details of the plan from the ministry.

Jokowi's administration allocated 26 percent of its 2016 state budget, equal to Rp 347.5 trillion (US$26.2 billion), for civil servants' salaries and allowances.

Meanwhile, according to the ministry, 244 regencies and cities across the country have earmarked more than 50 percent of their annual budget for such expenditure.

Herman said 1.9 million lower echelon officials in governmental institutions and regional administrations were being targeted for what the ministry calls "rapid assessment" to measure their competency, qualifications and working performance.

The assessment, which is set to be carried out later this year, will divide civil servants into four categories. First, those who are competent and qualified and have a good work performance. Second, those with a low level of competency and qualification but who perform well during the assessment period. Third, those who are competent and qualified but record low work-performance scores. Fourth, those who are incompetent, unqualified and recorded as performing badly.

"We will wait for the President to give the go-ahead for the ministry to implement the plan," Herman said.

Separately, Indonesian Ombudsman commissioner Alamsyah Saragih criticized the plan on Tuesday, saying that the ministry would do better to establish a "rehabilitation agency" aimed at improving the quality of low-performing officials, rather than offering them early retirement. (mos)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/06/08/regions-balk-downsizing-plan.html