PETALING JAYA: If there is one thing the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) cannot stomach, it is belittling the civil servants.
Being the national umbrella union body for civil servants, Cuepacs will naturally come to the defence of its 1.2 million members if their capability is not recognised.
So when the government said it is engaging private consultants to carry out certain work ostensibly because the civil servants lack the expertise to do the job, it jolted Cuepacs.
“The nation’s civil servants are a talented lot. They [the government] have to give us a bit of respect,” Cuepacs president Datuk Omar Osman told theantdaily.
He was commenting on a Finance Ministry statement that the capabilities of government researchers are limited with regard to their competency and manpower”, thus the need to engage external government services.
The ministry had revealed the justification for hiring private consultants in a written response to PKR MP Wong Chen in Parliament on Nov 12.
It also revealed that from 2009 to 2013, the government had spent over RM7.2 billion on private consulting firms.
In its reply to Wong, the ministry also reportedly said that despite Putrajaya developing the skills of government researchers and consultants in public universities, the National Institute of Public Administration and many other government agencies and ministries, the capabilities of those produced from these institutions were limited.
Omar is quick to rebut the ministry’s statement.
“We don’t agree with the statement. How can they say something like this?” he said.
He said the government must be absolutely sure the civil servants do not have the expertise needed before engaging private consultants to fill the void.
He pointed out that the government is expecting the same level of expertise from civil servants that they do from private consulting firms, but with drastically different fees or salaries paid to both parties.
He also questioned what the government meant by “capabilities”.
“You have to compare capabilities with salaries. How much does the government pay private consultants and how much do they pay civil servants? A civil servant who is at a director’s level after 30 years of working only draws a salary of about RM15,000 a month.
“You have to compare an apple to an apple. Civil servants are paid so much less than private consultants, but with the same expectations placed upon the former. If you want the same kind of capabilities and commitment, then pay us the same fees you pay private consultants,” said Omar.
Wong had said an average of RM4 million was spent daily, or RM125 million monthly, on private consultants.
The Prime Minister’s Department alone spent RM212.5 million on foreign consultants from 2008 to 2013.
The ministry’s reply said that in 2009, the year Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office, RM1.3 billion was spent on private consultancy services, which then rose to RM1.63 billion in 2010, followed by RM1.8 billion in 2011, RM1.82 billion in 2012 and RM722 million in the 10-month period from January to October this year.CIVIL