Friday, December 26, 2008

Civil Service and Job Security

When the Civil Service was instituted it was hyped to provide job security to the 35,000 odd government employees in the Maldives. They were promised protection from politically motivated and arbitrary dismissals. Join the Civil Service and assure a lifelong career, they were promised. But today hundreds of civil servants under threat of dismissal from 'redundant' government offices are wondering where the promises and assurances have gone.

Whatever its faults – be it discrimination, favoritism or nepotism – Maumoon government rarely practiced arbitrary dismissal from government service. In fact if the Civil Service Commission goes ahead it with the current spate of planned dismissals, the Commission would be responsible for more involuntary dismissals from service in one year than Maumoon in thirty years.

When an assistant secretary who has served faithfully for over 15 years in her job, her only means of subsistence with her two kids, faces dismissal just because her ministry is no longer deemed expedient, it matters little to her whether the dismissal is politically motivated or legalistically justified. What matters to her is she faces destitution tomorrow. What matters to us as citizens is that the State has failed to protect job security for its people.

The Civil Service Law requires employment in the service to be career based. What it means to most people is that once a person chooses a civil service job one is assured job security as well as the opportunity to go up the steps in a hierarchy, provided one performs satisfactorily in one's job. In the Maldives Civil Service things don't work out exactly that way. For example, when a DG position falls vacant, it is openly advertised with no preference given to in-service candidates. Even Deputy DGs in the same department will have to compete for the job with all those who apply including fresh graduates. In other words getting the DG post is more or less equivalent to getting a new job. In effect someone in a deputy DG post has two choices: remain in the post for ever or find another job. One wonders how one could call it a career based system.

No one says an unproductive person must be retained in the civil service. But are all those currently under the guillotine unproductive, and if so how does one know? The staff appraisal system is still in its infancy and in most offices appraisal forms are filled mechanically at the end of the period, the same way overtime approval forms are filled towards the end of each month. Can one rely on such appraisals to decide someone's future?


naimbé said...

Yes, you are right in your contention about the single-mother assistant secretary whose only means of sustenance to her two kids is her civil service job. It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to her and to everyone in this country who has any sense of right and wrong whether the dismissal is politically motivated or economically justified. What matters, as you have very rightly said, is that she faces destitution. And that cannot and should not be allowed at any cost and particularly when this country can afford to pay very generous compensation packages in excess of 50thousand to hundreds of ‘verin’ and ‘majlis members’ who are enjoying opulence that would even turn the average man from OECD countries green. The Civil Service Commission ought to be working on undoing the damages that were done during the last few years under Gayoom. Over the last two years Director Generals and a whole lot of other formidable appointments were frivolously made almost every other day. Not a week went by without half a dozen difficult-to-pronounce titles being added to the disproportionately top-heavy civil service. I can of course understand the acute need to reform our civil service given the fact that one in every five adults in this country is a civil servant. But what I fail to understand in why the Civil Service Commission doenst seem to be working on undoing the damages done in the last few years.

Anonymous said...




THIS mps AFTER MARCH 31st are no longer mps.

Anonymous said...

Our Civil Service Commission seems not to dare what is going in the service and some of the high salary paid Permanent Secretaries or PS are not concerned about the staff who have or are working under them. Quite interestingly when new government came into office they were saying that they will not 'fight' with civil servants rather they 'fight' with the so called political appointees of President Gayoom. But now they have more or less abandoned some of the promises especially when it comes to Civil Servants who were working in the Atolls Development, Atoll Offices or Island Offices. The reason is just hatred and nothing else. But they are also Maldivians and they have a right to work in the civil service. However, quite harshly they have been 'attacked'. This definitely will be a small drop but will eventually become a larger sea if this continues. We have seen change of government from Nasir to Gayoom in 1978 but there were no threats even a small one in relation to thier job. Just deputy ministers, or even md's of companies too were not affected. But today, we just see the other way, where Deputy Ministers, heads of State Enterprises are very worried and some have been sacked just giving a single reason of appointing another one. Maldives is just over 300,000 people and I do not think that even under a multiparty democrartic system this sort of sacking should continue. Of course the sacking as far as it goes is nothing but hatred for the previous regime and I see no reason to punish an individual or a group of individuals for that very reason. But we have a beleif that "jallaad is always the wisest one'. So he can knife where ever he wants.

Ubaidulla said...

Dear Dr Waheed. I disagree with your argument about the potential sacking of a 'possibly' inefficient assistant secretary. The issue is not the sacking of inefecient people when the goal is efficency. The problem for her is the lack of an unemployment benefit scheme and other social nets in Maldives. The other is we cannot keep her if she has possibly not trained herself for a higher post in all these years. More importantly however she is occupying a post which could be filled by a more qualified younger people who are waiting for such jobs (thus the opportunity cost of her holding this job while several vying for this job). Ofcourse it tugs at our hearts when we consider these on an individual basis. Collectively it should not.
We need to make jobs competitive even with in the traditional domain of government administration. Also your the need for special preference for those with in the organization in postings, I find unnecesary. This is because it provides the opportunity for competition as well as fresh blood.(new thinking). Lets say whats wrong with the typical guy competing for a governmet post if he has equivalent experience of having worked for an NGO, private sector or international organizations in similar capacity.
Ideally the Civil service should sack all and reemploy everyone one contract basis! However the problem is not the change in governments but how far and fast the Civil service Commision can build itself, be more transparent, less ambigous. From what I hear their behavior has been far from civil or even organized.

Anonymous said...

Civil Service Commission is a joke.When they first appointed Permanent secretaries also they did not follow the law. The law clearly says civil servants should be appointed according to merit.There was no exception made for permanent secretaries.For instance the Director General of the Ministry of Atolls Development who has served in the Ministry for 20 years and who has a first degree and a master's degree(subjects relevant to the Ministry mandate) from two reputable western Universities applied another guy who has only a first degree in Arabic language and who had most experience in the education sector was chosen. Such examples are numerous. Civil service commission chose permanent secretaries after consulting the ministers.
Now again the civil service commission has violated the law and appointed more than one Permanent secretary for some ministries.And interestingly some permanent secretaries were just assigned other ministries without them even applying.When the Government created new ministries, civil service commission should have publicly announced for permanent secretaries for the ministries.
I have lost my civil service job.No life long job guarantee until pension.Fortunately for me Maldivians have now acquired a taste for SHULA SHIRAZ and I hope to make a living importing this Indian wine.

Anonymous said...

Whatever is Shula Shiraz? Can anyone enlighten me ?

Anonymous said...

What is the connection between Shula Shiraz and the Civil Service commission?Members of the Commission do not I repeat do not drink Shula Shiraz.Indian newspapers also did not report these VIPs giving an interview over a glass of Shula Shiraz. It was another VVIP who drank the wine.

Anonymous said...

Civil Service Commission do not even follow their own policy. They announced that permanent secretaries will be paid same as deputy ministers and their status is also same as deputy ministers. But when Government cut the salaries of deputy ministers, civil service did not cut salaries of permanent secretaries.So, now permanent secs get more than deputy ministers! And this is against a presidential directive . Civil service also must adhere to govt policies.