Former finance ministry secretary-general warns that any delay in downsizing the civil service could spark a Greece-like crisis.
PETALING JAYA: A former senior government officer said Putrajaya must start retrenching lower-level staff in the public sector while it can still afford to pay compensation.
The Star quoted former finance ministry secretary-general and Economic Planning Unit director-general, Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, who warned that the civil service in its current size would be problematic in the event of a financial crisis.
“Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy,” Sheriff told a forum on public sector governance.
He said the 1.6-million strong civil service meant Malaysia had the highest civil servants-to-population ratio in the Asia Pacific region.
Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani recently said there was now one civil servant for every 19.37 people, adding that government expenditure had been rising annually as a result.
Johari said however there were no plans to reduce civil servants.
He also reportedly said the government spent RM74 billion to pay public servants last year, an increase from RM22 billion in 2003.
Sheriff warned that any delay in downsizing the civil service could spark a Greece-like crisis.
In 2015, Greece’s cash-strapped economy led to a freeze in payment of salaries and pensions to government servants.
Sheriff said any retrenchment of civil servants in Malaysia should be done now when Putrajaya could still afford it rather than to do it “at a time when they can least afford it”.
He said Malaysia could also emulate the method used in other countries including Indonesia, empowering top civil servants to retrench non-performing staff.