Top bureaucrats paid to stay straight

Saturday, June 14, 2008
Issue 374, Page 5
Word count: 599
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The government is willing to pay leaving top bureaucrats a lump sum of six months of their salary to temporarily prohibit them from taking up jobs in the private sector.

Directors and deputy directors from major bureaus currently receive a monthly salary of 55,000 patacas and 47,850 patacas respectively, while heads of second-level bureaus earn up to 50,600 patacas.

A new bill announced by the Executive Council yesterday suggests top bureaucrats be prohibited from working in the private sector for six months after termination of their appointment.

The move is needed to “safeguard the image of administration departments and build a clean government”, said director of the Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP), Jose Chu.

If officials receive a job offer from the private sector before the six-month restriction period is over, approvals must be received from the Chief Executive who will consult a specially formed committee.

Leaving top officials may not be able to obtain the approval if a conflict of interest exists between their former government position and the new job.

In this case, applicants will receive six-month “compensation” payment of their full previous government salary, after which they are free to accept job offers from any companies.

However, Mr Chu said if officials want to resign and take up positions in the private sector before their appointment or contracts are up, the same application must be lodged with the Chief Executive, but no compensation will be paid.

The compensation system, Mr Chu said, is “justified” as the six-month restriction period is imposed on bureaucrats who do not serve the government any more and thus shall be free from any government limitations.

He added that the length of the restriction could be changed by the Legislative Assembly which will start deliberating the bill “within a short period of time”.

The proposed bill would also apply to public service division heads who currently earn 38,500 patacas per month, team leaders who earn 35,750 patacas a month, and section chiefs who take home 23,650 patacas per month.

A subsidy for the boss

The bill also suggests an extra monthly payment of 15 or 20 percent of an earned salary to top bureaucrats in order to “respond to their demands and boost their morale”.

Mr Chu said this group of officials, which account for 706 people, “are shouldering more workload but never receive any over-time working payment”.

Therefore, he said the government proposes a subsidy worth 20 percent of their salary to directors, deputy directors, department heads and division heads. A 15 percent subsidy is proposed for team leaders and section chiefs.

According to the Executive Council, if the duty subsidy is passed by the Assembly, top bureaucrats will be back paid starting from July 1, 2007 and the government will see a new annual expenditure of about 71 million patacas.

Mr Chu added that such a subsidy will not be counted as part of the contributions for pensions or a provident fund.

On the other hand, the bill also introduces a work performance assessment system for directors and chiefs and their reports will be prepared by one of the five government secretaries.

The assessment will be used to determine if contracts are to be renewed or promotions given.

Mr Chu said if officials do not perform their duties fully the Chief Executive could issue a public warning or even immediately terminate their appointment.

In addition, the bill suggests officials be prohibited from taking up leadership and executive positions for three to five years if they are found “incapable of the job, showing poor work performance or poor discipline”.

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