Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Lawmakers on Wednesday slammed the government's proposals to reduce the number of civil servants, insisting there were better ways to cut spending.
House of Representatives Commission II overseeing home affairs advised the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry to think deeply about the policy, which, members said, would harm the nation's economy and social fabric.
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Arteria Dahlan voiced strong opposition to the idea, saying that the government had overstepped the House.
"You must be careful in formulating ideas. We see no rational reason for this policy. This is not efficiency. When civil servants retire we have to provide funds for their severance payments, so there will be no greater efficiency," Arteria said.
The ministry sparked anxiety among civil servants by announcing on Saturday a plan to offer early retirement to public officials, claiming the idea to be part of Jokowi's pledge to cut spending. This year, the state allocated 26 percent of the budget, or Rp 347.5 trillion (US$26.2 billion), for civil servants' salaries and allowances.
Arteria said that instead of dismissing the civil servants, the ministry would do better to review the expenses paid to senior officials, arguing that the latter sometimes received too much. "If necessary, we should provide cheaper cars for directors general and cut their motorcades, including for ministries, instead of firing civil servants," he added.
Golkar Party lawmaker Hetifah Sjaifudian lambasted the policy as "inappropriate" amid a struggling economy and rising unemployment. "It would be better to ensure an even distribution of civil servants rather than reducing their number. A number of regional administrations still lack public servants," Hetifah said.
Commission II deputy chairman Ahmad Riza Patria of the Gerindra Party suggested that if implemented, the policy would act only to spark public uproar. "It's a subjective approach. We should learn from former president SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono], whose approach emphasized establishing more nonministerial institutions rather than reducing human resources," Riza said.
Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi pledged to review the plan first and insisted there was no plan to rush it through, but countered that he did not intend on dropping it. "We want to reach a rational number of civil servants. The ideal figure is 1.5 percent of the total population," Yuddy said.
Currently, civil servants account for around 2 percent, or more than 4.5 million, of the total population. Yuddy said that it would take around three years for the policy to get that figure down to the ideal proportion.
"We are still reviewing the plan. We have announced it to allow civil servants time to prepare. All told, we simply want to provide better services to the public by keeping only those civil servants whose quality is proven," Yuddy said.