PETALING JAYA: A former deputy minister and a former deputy director of a foundation have questioned recent remarks by economy minister Rafizi Ramli on the size of the civil service, saying they contradict the government’s plans for the sector.
Rafizi had, on Feb 5, urged the public not to buy into the notion that the country had a bloated civil service. He also said that he had no issue with increasing the number of civil servants, which currently stands at 1.6 million.
Hanipa Maidin, who was deputy law minister from 2018 to 2020, said these comments were not in sync with Putrajaya’s plans to hire civil servants on a contractual basis and abolish the pension for the group.
He added that the plan to do away with the pension for new civil servants was likely a sign that the government wanted to trim the sector.
The former Sepang MP said the pension offered in the civil service was the main attraction for those who wanted to work in government as it provided financial security upon retirement.
When Rafizi dismissed talk that the civil service was bloated, he said, the Pandan MP understood that it was a sensitive matter. The civil service is traditionally seen as a government vote bank.
“But with the new policy that public servants who are hired in future are not eligible for pension, I feel like Rafizi’s statement appears to be contradictory,” he told FMT.
Johan Ariffin Samad, the former deputy director of Sabah Foundation, said the government would not need a huge civil workforce given its push for the digitalisation of its services.
Neither could Putrajaya afford to increase the size of the civil service, he said.
“How can they afford it (increasing the size of the civil service), when they are talking about pension removal (for those hired in future)?”
Last year, former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Putrajaya had forked out about RM30 billion to pay pensioners in 2022, making up nearly 10% of the government’s annual budget expenditure.
Former prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob meanwhile said that pension payments were expected to reach an estimated RM46.6 billion in 2030.