Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has stated that ‘benefits’ should no longer be given to those working in public administration, but insists that such support go to volunteers working for the government in remote and rural areas instead.
During the ongoing National Assembly (NA) session, the Prime Minister pointed out that the number of civil servants in the country was high relative to the total population, due to more civil servants being recruited each year in contrast to those retiring.
“If the number of civil servants is in excess of those actually needed, it will mean that we are everlastingly doing them a favor,” he stated, adding that the perpetual supply of government positions results in people rejecting other forms of work, especially in business.
An estimated 150,000 civil servants currently work in ministries, government agencies, and local authorities, accounting for more than 2 percent of the country’s population, of which half have a lower or intermediate level diploma.
This equates to the government employing 2.5 people out of every 100 citizens, while in most countries that figure is less than two public servants per 100 citizens.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has been directed by the PM to hire civil servants based on methodical studies and the principles of public administration.
Prime Minister Thongloun also mentioned continuous complaints about the shortage of teachers in many rural schools, where volunteer teachers are often put in place to fill positions. Directing sympathy towards these volunteers, the PM acknowledged that they work just as hard as teachers who are employed as civil servants, possibly even harder, however they are unable to gain civil servant status.
It has been suggested by Mr Thongloun that a fund be established for volunteer teachers, with contributions from domestic and international donors, business operators, and private citizens.
He also touched on the struggles of the local people in these rural areas, who earn as little as 10 or 20,000 kip a day but feel obligated to feed the volunteer teachers.
The government has previously announced only 5,000 new employees would be hired in 2017, with the new quota of civil servants based on the financial capacity of the government to pay officials’ salaries.
In line with this policy, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism announced in March it would not recruit any new staff to work at the central level, but would request the transfer of civil servants from provincial departments if necessary.