Cut perks of top civil servants

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 01 Nov 2018

Business Class seats onboard an MAS aeroplane. Civil servants,opines the writer, can travel on Business Class instead of First Class. — Filepic

AS more and more news reports are published on the fact that we are in serious debt and added taxes are being planned in Budget 2019, I would like to look from within and suggest ways to stop wastage in the administrative arm of the government.

Let’s start with the top brass in each ministry. All those in Jusa C and above are entitled to fly business class for local and overseas official trips.

In fact, Jusa A and above fly first class for overseas trips on official business. If possible, these flights are to be on the national carrier, Malaysia Airlines.

Firstly, the top brass should not travel Business Class anymore. For international flights, Jusa A onwards should fly Business Class only.

Those below Jusa A can fly economy class like the rest of us. This is an entitlement not a right, especially now that austerity measures are being implemented.

Secondly, the practice by all government offices or departments when it comes to purchasing flight tickets for official trips has to be reviewed.

Under a Treasury directive, all purchases must be made with a government warrant. This changed over time with only about 50% of these purchases made with the warrants.

The other 50% are paid directly to individuals who buy the tickets on their own and then submit the claims to their respective offices/departments.

Interestingly, when one looks at the price of tickets purchased via a warrant through a government-appointed travel agency and compare them with a similar ticket bought online by an individual for a local flight, there is an almost 200% to 300% mark up of the original ticket price

Thirdly, in the era of digital technology and information systems, a lot of meetings at different parts of Malaysia can be conducted without requiring that officers travel from Putrajaya to other parts of the country.

Putrajaya and Cyberjaya are digital hubs with all sorts of capabilities in these modern buildings. Having a video conference means these officers would not have to waste time and money travelling all over the place.

Even if a place does not have video-conferencing capabilities, the advent of 4G and applications like Skype and WhatsApp allows video calls in most areas including the interior such as Kapit and Betong (Sarawak) and Ranau, Telupid and Kunak (Sabah).

There are exceptions when one may have to visit project sites to assess situations but even then, one can video call and get a picture of the situation from the department’s own officers at their local office on site.

Another important aspect that the administrative branch can look into is the need for official cars for Jusa C and above.

There is so much money wasted on this perk which can be reviewed when the need arises. The contract given to a company to provide and maintain this fleet of cars was huge and over a long period.

Jusa grade staff can drive their own vehicles and get an allowance for petrol.

If necessary, they can make use of the department’s fleet of vehicles.

Finally, many meetings are repetitious and unnecessary. Most of the time, the message doesn’t get across to all levels. Poor communication, poor strategic thinking and poor analysis leads to poor rates of implementation.

While having key performance indicators (KPIs) as part of a balanced scorecard is essential for any organisation, poor planning and auditing abounds in the civil service.

Auditing is done just for the sake of signing documents, putting the dots and crossing the Ts. Once the auditing is completed, everyone goes back to doing things the way they are used to. The intention of ISO certification within the civil service was good. Now, it is viewed more like a joke

The majority of frontline staff only implement ISO during the audit process. A lot of money is wasted on this attempted implementation with its resultant multitude of meetings.

One must look from within for ways to help reduce the cost of running the country. Malaysians need help to cope with rising inflation and the high cost of living. Why not start with the civil service by cutting out unnecessary expenditure and wastage?


Kuala Lumpur

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Opinion , letters , buget , cost-cutting


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