[EDITORIALS]Too Many Chiefs, No Indians

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[EDITORIALS]Too Many Chiefs, No Indians

The problems with the government's public sector reform program, based on playing with numbers, are becoming apparent. According to press reports, the number of Grade 9 civil servants who actually provide services to people visiting government offices decreased by more than half from 22,000 in 1997 to 10,500 last year. The percentage of civil servants below the age of 30 has also decreased from 24 percent to 14 percent. Instead, the number of officials in managerial positions - those above Grade 6 - are increasing. The civil service system should take a pyramid form: more people at the bottom and fewer people at the top. In the current situation, the quality of services to the people will fall and the logjam in personnel administration will intensify.

We agree in principle with the government's plan to reduce the size of the civil service with the aim of ensuring equity with the restructuring programs going on in the private sector. But however well-intentioned the government may be, major side effects are inevitable with the less-than-adequate public sector restructuring program and the mess in the program's implementation. We have already experienced severe side effects from corporate and financial sector reform. Corporations have lost the will to invest, and the capital market is stagnant.

The U.S. government recently completed a reorganization program, which could have been used as a model here. Because of the lack of such program, however, the normal intake of 6,000 to 7,000 entry-level civil servants has virtually disappeared and "aging" at local governments is a serious problem. When selecting the target of personnel reduction, the basic structure of the civil service should not be touched, and the size of reductions should keep in mind how many new entry-level civil servants are needed.

While the government prioritized "hardware reform" over "software reform," we believe both should have been undertaken simultaneously. The quality of service would not have deteriorated this much even with the significant reduction in the number of Grade 9 officers if the government had passed on certain responsibilities to the private sector, streamlined overlapping roles and rearranged its personnel.
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