Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Public Service News from around the world

Unkind cut for trainee doctor

PARIS (January 5): A French public hospital’s decision to reject an Egyptian trainee doctor because of his beard has been upheld in court.

The court ruled that the hospital, like other State institutions, must remain secular under France law, and the beard could be seen as indicating a specific religious practice.

The doctor, known only as Mohamed A, was sent from Menoufia University in northern Egypt for a one-year training course at Saint-Denis Hospital in September 2013.

In October, hospital managers told him to trim his beard “so that it could not be seen by staff and users of the public service as an obvious sign of a religious affiliation”. After he failed to comply, his training course was terminated in February 2014.


Audit spotlight on PS corruption

NICOSIA (January 9): Cyprus’ Auditor General says the impunity once enjoyed by the country’s Public Servants was on the wane due to the work of prosecution authorities and changes in the mindset of the public.

Odysseas Michaelides said that Public Service corruption and mismanagement was no longer tolerated.

Congratulating Mr Michaelides, President Nicos Anastasiades said it was necessary to severely crack down on misconduct.

Citing data from European surveys on the cost of corruption to the taxpayer, Mr Michaelides said that audits and controls in general could only benefit the economy.


Chad rethink on PS pay cut

N'DJAMENA (January 9): The Government of Chad has suspended a plan to reduce the salaries of its Public Servants.

Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke said the plan, which had aimed to ease the strains on a Budget badly hit by a nearly four-year slump in oil revenues and a rise in borrowing, had been opposed by trade unions.

Public Service salaries in 2017 totalled $US720 million ($A903.6 million), roughly the equivalent of the combined revenue from income tax and customs duties, according to official figures.

Chad is under pressure to cut costs to meet performance targets under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid program. The country is one of the poorest in the world.


Pakistan changes promotion rules

ISLAMABAD (December 2): The Pakistan Government has directed that the criteria for promotion in the Public Service be changed, giving more weight to the completion of training courses and less to the recommendations of superiors.

The Establishment Division within the Ministry for Public Service said the changes were necessary because of inflated performance evaluation reports that the bureaucrats were getting from their superiors despite poor performances.

However, critics said the increased weight on training came while there was still no standardisation of training courses in Pakistan.

They pointed out that the civilian-run National School of Public Policy and the military-run National Defence University (NDU) had different training modules and evaluation criteria, with the NDU criteria regarded as more stringent and robust.


Concern over Brexit inexperience

LONDON (January 4): Only one in five Public Servants working on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) can remember a time when the UK was not in the bloc.

An analysis of Government personnel data reveals that the average age of staff at the Department for Exiting the European Union is 31, with 83 per cent of officials under 40.

The figures from the Institute for Government show that the Department, which was set up after the EU referendum and now employs nearly 600 Public Servants, has relied heavily on young graduates to fill its posts.

Insiders say that the dependence on younger employees has worsened the Department’s high staff turnover, creating internal confusion.


Another PS death in Nigerian State

LOKOJA (January 5): A senior Public Servant in the Nigerian State of Kogi has died of a heart attack just three days after being told he was sacked.

Alphonsus Ameh had been Director Administration and Finance at the Kogi State Pension Board.

A niece of the deceased said Mr Ameh (61) was among a group of Directors and Permanent Secretaries who were suspended in February 2016. He had not received any salary since then.

Last year two Kogi Public Servants committed suicide after not receiving their salaries for extended periods.


Police protest over officer’s jailing

HONG KONG (January 7): The union representing junior officers in the Hong Kong Police has warned of a “morale crisis” in its ranks following the recent jailing of now retired Superintendent Frankly Chu for hitting a bystander with a baton during a protest.

Chair of the 20,000-strong Junior Police Offers Association, Joe Chan Cho-kwong, said the incident “lays bare the huge changes that have been imparted on Hong Kong society amid the political disputes of recent years”.

“It highlights the inadequate protection of police officers on duty and how certain requirements of police officers on use of force have become outdated,” Mr Chan said.

Hundreds of police sympathisers took to the streets to show “support for police enforcement”. They demanded an independent commission be set up to monitor how judges handed out jail sentences.


No money for Uganda PS pay rise

KAMPALA (January 2): Uganda’s Public Servants have been told there will be no pay rise for them this year and that they will have to tighten their belts further.

The Treasury has rejected a proposal from the Ministry of Public Service for phased pay increases over four years, saying there was no money available for the measure.

Instead it recommended a freeze on all new recruitment except when replacements were absolutely necessary and an indefinite halt to a plan for 13 new Districts and 200 Town Councils — measures already approved by Parliament.

"Relatedly, the policy of one secondary school per sub-County and a technical school per constituency will be reconsidered. In addition, Government should stop grant aiding of private schools and hospitals,” the Treasury said.


 Recruitment drive comes up short

LUXEMBOURG CITY (January 6): Of the 2,459 vacancies in the Luxembourg Public Service over the past four years, only 1,989 have been able to be filled, Minister for the Public Service, Dan Kersch has announced.

Most vacancies occurred in the areas of education, tax administration and police, despite an intensive recruiting drive, the Minister said.

“One of the criteria for entering the Civil Service is good knowledge of the three working languages, French German and Luxembourgish, which has been a problem,” Mr Kersch said.

He again floated the idea of allowing more foreign residents to enter the Public Service, something which has been a sensitive issue in the past.


Phone jammers to counter exam cheats

MUMBAI (January 5): Mobile phone jammers are to be used in centres where candidates are taking the examination for the Indian State of Maharashtra’s Public Service.

The State’s Public Service Commission said the move was necessary to prevent cheating.

Deputy Secretary of the Commission, Sunil Awatade said the jammers would prevent the use of cell-phones and related electronic devices.

Public Service candidate and a member of the group demanding reforms in the examination system, Mahesh Bade said jammers should be used in all Government recruitment exams in order to make sure that genuine candidates did not suffer.


Crackdown on PS extravagance

HARARE (January 3): Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s promised crackdown on the Public Service extravagances of his predecessor has begun with the dismissal of more than 3,000 youth officers and 500 unqualified officials.

The Treasury has also begun turning down vehicle purchase requests from senior officials and trimming their fuel and mobile phone airtime allocations.

Landline telephone use is being closely monitored across all Government Departments while fiscally-supported foreign travel has been curtailed, with recruitment for non-critical posts frozen.

The Civil Service Commission is also calculating packages for all its 65-year-old and older employees and will retire them by the end of the month.


PS development model adopted

ASTANA (January 5): The Kazakhstan’s Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption has announced that neighbouring Uzbekistan will adopt the Kazakh model for developing its Public Service.

The decision follows a meeting between high-level officials of both countries during which methods for promoting efficiencies, including one-stop-shop service centres and e-government systems, were discussed.

Director of Kazakhstan’s State Services Department, Adilbek Mukashev said his country’s achievements in this sphere were presented to the Uzbek side.

Kazakh representatives briefed their counterparts on the Digital Kazakhstan State Program that was designed to reduce corruption and inefficiencies, ensure transparency in Governmental bodies and better protect the rights and freedoms of citizens.


Up your commitment, officers told

ABUJA (January 5): Nigeria’s Federal Public Servants have been urged to show more commitment and dedication towards performing their duties in 2018.

Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita made the call in Abuja while addressing Public Servants in her office after the return from the New Year holiday.

“However, I must also congratulate you Civil Servants that stood with this administration through thick and thin even in the face of the fuel crisis that ended before the New Year,” Mrs Oyo-Ita said.

She commended President Muhammadu Buhari for keeping his promise of paying salaries and promotion arrears despite the challenges faced by the country in the previous year.


State’s public education ‘in crisis’

KARACHI (January 8): The Chief Minister of the Pakistani Province of Sindh has declared a “public education emergency” in the face of falling standards.

Murad Ali Shah said the problems in the Department of Education were serious and complicated.

He announced a 10-year education reform program “to overhaul the entire system”.

Proposed reforms would include improvement of textbooks, proper and professional training of teachers, more efficient and transparent mechanism of teachers’ recruitment, performance-based promotions, increments and incentives for the best teachers, and improvements to the classroom environment.


‘No confidence’ in Department head

EDINBURGH (January 8): A Scottish Government Department is reported to be suffering a crisis in morale that is undermining the ability of solicitors to challenge Ministers over their policies.

An internal Public Service survey covering lawyers in the Directorate for Legal Services found only 47 per cent of staff had confidence in the long-serving Director, Murray Sinclair.

This was significantly lower than the average confidence rating (57 per cent) for Directors in the Civil Service People Survey, which was carried out last October.

The survey’s findings were catastrophic among staff covering children, education, health and social care. Of the 17 solicitors in this area, only one said they had confidence in the decisions made by Mr Sinclair, who has been at the helm for 11 years.

The full Public Service News international news service resumes on January 23 at psnews.com.au/aps/world

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