IDEAS: Civil service doesn’t exist to create jobs.

PETALING JAYA: A think tank says it agrees with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s suggestion on the privatisation of government agencies as a way to trim Malaysia’s bloated civil service.

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs’ (IDEAS) was responding to a statement from Cuepacs on the dire consequences should the government take up Mahathir’s suggestion to privatise agencies.

Cuepacs president Azih Muda had said privatisation would lead to many people losing their jobs.

We are thankful that we are no longer under Mahathir’s administration because, if we are, the civil service would be in a mess right now, Azih had told FMT.

But IDEAS external relations manager Azrul Khalib said arguments often used against privatisation are tired ones which don’t survive the cold facts of reality.

The civil service is not a ‘jobs programme’ intended to deal with unemployment in Malaysia.

It is intended to deliver services to the Malaysian people, utilising taxpayer money and government revenue wisely.

So, Azrul said, the priority should be on making optimal use of public funds to deliver the best possible outcomes for the people.

He said privatising sections of the civil service will allow for better wages to be paid and for better qualified people to be recruited, as well as the streamlining of jobs and responsibilities.

Reducing the size of the service through privatisation will also create opportunities for increased efficiency, greater effectiveness in policy and service delivery, cultivation and rewarding of creativity and innovation, and better use of IT.

Recently, Mahathir said the privatisation of government agencies meant the government wouldn’t have to spend a lot on wages.

In the 1980s, the government carried out privatisation exercises that resulted in the National Electricity Board becoming Tenaga Nasional while the Telecoms Department became Telekom Malaysia, or just TM, as we know it today.

In February, it was reported that the Malaysian civil service is the largest in the world by ratio against the size of the population, with one civil servant for every 19.37 people in the country.

Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani was quoted as saying that the bloated civil service of 1.6 million is causing the government’s expenditure to rise drastically yearly.

However, he said Putrajaya would not be taking any action to reduce the number of civil servants.

Source: Malaysian Trades Union Congress