Thursday, October 28, 2021

Plan to make Masisi a job’s president hits a snag

The Department of Public Service Management (DPSM)’s hope that the task team  assigned to come up with recommendations on how to reduce the public service wage bill would back their plan cut back on allowences has backfired. The task team has instead recommended an increase in public service spending.

The plan was believed to be part of a bigger campaign to make President Mokgweetsi Masisi a job’s president by implementing a massive cut back on civil service allowances in a bid to create more sustainable jobs on a limited budget.

A report leaked to the Sunday Standard has revealed that the task team which was also charged with investigating the cause of overtime in the civil service has recommended that the DPSM should create new posts.

Instead of providing ammunition for government to cut back on the public service wage bill, the Task Force further recommended that commuted overtime allowance for officers under the Offices of the President and Vice President should be at the rate of 25 percent instead of 15 percent that was initially proposed by the DPSM.

Contrary to government’s position the Task Force also recommended that a professional allowance at the rate of 20 percent be paid to teachers in the interim with a view to compensating them for the extra hours worked.

Sunday Standard has turned up information that government was unhappy with the report and has rejected recommendations to increase commuted allowances in certain departments and create new positions within the public service.

Government earlier this year appointed the Task Team to undertake an assessment of cause of overtime and to come up with a system that would cut back on the non-commuted overtime, thus reducing its wage bill.

Government was planning a massive cut back on civil service allowances in a bid to create more jobs on a limited budget and reduce the wage bill.

“It is noted that shift work may not be smoothly implemented in situations of staff shortages. Therefore, it has been recommended that where possible additional positions be created in critical areas of need,” reads the report.

The report states that “it has been observed that there are staff shortages across Ministries, hence it is recommended that creation of staffing positions be fast tracked.”

According to the report, “as a matter of principle, consider creation of additional positions to ensure smooth implementation of shift work and for continuous service delivery” at some ministries.

The report found that there are certain instances where night-watchmen work 480 hours as opposed to the normal 240 hours per month. “Pending creation of additional positions and employment thereof, it is recommended that consideration be made to employ them for the actual hours worked. 

“For those night-watchmen working beyond 4-8 days/month in excess, and not working in alternate basis, it is critical to assess and establish the affected number across ministries with a view of urgently creating positions to normalise the situation,” the report states.

With regard to the staff at the Office of the President and Vice President as well as broadcasting services, the report states that “it has been observed that the 15 percent commuted overtime allowance as suggested by the employer is not enough considering the peculiarity and nature of their job which requires extended hours of work. It is therefore recommended that commuted overtime allowance at the rate of 25 percent be considered although the employer side maintained the 15 percent basing on the budgetary constraints.”

It is recommended that flexible hours of work be implemented within government at selected government ministries and departments as a pilot project to facilitate service delivery beyond normal working hours as a new reform with a view to later implement it across government ministries and departments.

“It has been noted that veterinary officers operate private practice within Government working hours and also use Government resources such as transport, but charge for vaccines, labour, equipment. Labour charges are reportedly laid on farmers despite the officers being on Government payroll. It is also observed that arrangement may undermine Government cost recovery efforts,” the report said.

The report found that causes of overtime allowance are as a result of among others shortage of staff resulting in the available staff not coping with existing workload hence performing work beyond normal working hours and establishment of new extension offices without staff complement hence causing staff shortages.

“The other type of overtime in shift work is caused by inadequate staff complement to complete as shift cycle resulting in others doubling shifts or continuing into the next shift without breaking,” the report states.

While the Task Team report was of the view that its recommendations would reduce the wage bill, the government reportedly insists that it was not in a position to implement some of the recommendations as they have the potential to increase it.

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