Govern­ment be­gins bio­met­ric reg­is­tra­tion in civil ser­vice

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - De­bra Matabvu

GOVERN­MENT plans to roll­out the bio­met­ric reg­is­tra­tion of work­ers in the civil ser­vice within the first three months of next year, in an ex­er­cise that is largely ex­pected to help stream­line the pub­lic sec­tor pay­roll through weed­ing out “ghost work­ers”.

The three-month ex­er­cise is part of broad mea­sures that have been adopted by Govern­ment – through the Tran­si­tional Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme– to ra­tio­nalise its wage bill by en­sur­ing an au­ditable and ver­i­fi­able head-count.

The Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion is al­ready work­ing with Govern­ment de­part­ments to de­velop me­chan­ics of how the ex­er­cise will be im­ple­mented.

Sim­i­larly, Min­istries and Sta­te­owned en­ter­prises (SOEs) have since been or­dered to come up with clear suc­ces­sion plans for em­ploy­ees over 65 years to en­sure a seam­less roll­out of the pro­gramme.

PSC chair­per­son Dr Vin­cent Hungwe told The Sun­day Mail last week that process will be mea­sured as pub­lic ser­vice em­ploy­ees above 65 years will be re­tained on a short-term ba­sis in cases where their va­can­cies can­not be read­ily filled.

“We need to come up with a roadmap on how we are go­ing to im­ple­ment it. It is some­thing that has to be man­aged and given lead­er­ship by Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

“The Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion is go­ing to work hand-in-glove with other line min­istries. We are go­ing to start in the first quar­ter of 2019. Bio­met­ric reg­is­tra­tion will take long, thus we must look at it as a process. We will be shar­ing in­for­ma­tion with other par­ties on how it will rolled out,” said Dr Hungwe.

“In terms of re­tir­ing those over 65, peo­ple have been re­tir­ing in the past and it is a process that has been on­go­ing, but it does not im­ply that if you over 65 years, Govern­ment has no in­ter­est in you what­so­ever.

“To the ex­tent that Govern­ment recog­nises that there is a short­age of skills, knowl­edge and com­pe­tence, it will al­ways en­gage those peo­ple on a short-term ba­sis, which means you will not be given any con­tract that is more than 12 months.

“As a mat­ter of fact, all line min­istries have been in­structed to en­sure that they put in place a suc­ces­sion plan, tal­ent man­age­ment plan that en­sures that al­ter­na­tive per­sons are iden­ti­fied to take over the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a per­son that is act­ing on a 12-months ba­sis,” he said.

Govern­ment has 158 994 work­ers on its pay­roll, of which 123 000 are em­ployed by the Min­istry of Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion.

Bold mea­sures, which in­clude a five per­cent salary cut for se­nior civil ser­vants, ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of for­eign mis­sions, re­tire­ment of youth of­fi­cers and stric­tures in the use of pub­lic ser­vice ve­hi­cles, has al­ready been an­nounced as part of a pack­age to re­store macroe­co­nomic sta­bil­ity.

The pub­lic ser­vice wage bill ac­counts for over 90 per­cent of Govern­ment rev­enues. Au­thor­i­ties are, how­ever, up­beat the bio­met­ric reg­is­tra­tion ex­er­cise will help weed out “ghost work­ers” that are leach­ing from the pub­lic purse.

A sim­i­lar ex­er­cise in Tan­za­nia in 2016 man­aged to net 10 000 ghost work­ers.

It is un­der­stood that the process man­aged to save the East African coun­try more than $2 mil­lion per month.

Sim­i­larly, the Mozam­bi­can govern­ment an­nounced that it had dis­cov­ered more than 30 000 ghost work­ers on its pay­roll, which had prej­u­diced the coun­try of more than $250 mil­lion be­tween 2015 and 2017.

Hu­man re­source ex­pert Mr Mem­ory Nguwi said Govern­ment’s un­der­tak­ing needs to be com­ple­mented by mea­sures that en­sure high pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“It is good that Govern­ment has re­alised that the cur­rent staff costs-to-in­come ra­tio is not sus­tain­able as it leaves no room for Govern­ment to fund crit­i­cal na­tional projects and other im­por­tant ser­vices,” he said.

“How­ever, there are other mea­sures that need to be taken by Govern­ment such as car­ry­ing out work­load anal­y­sis of ev­ery Govern­ment em­ployee for a full month.

“The re­sults of the study are very likely to show that there are some peo­ple who are over­worked while oth­ers are barely utilised. This will en­able the Govern­ment to align roles and fo­cus on high-value adding roles.

“Be­sides sav­ing money, this study will al­low Govern­ment to get value for ev­ery dol­lar paid to staff.”

The In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) re­cently rec­om­mended the need to re­duce Govern­ment’s wage bill and to re-ori­ent spend­ing to­wards cap­i­tal projects. Ac­cord­ing to the IMF 2017 Staff Re­port on the Ar­ti­cle IV Con­sul­ta­tions, the coun­try’s spend­ing pres­sures stemmed from high em­ploy­ment costs, Govern­ment trans­fers to sup­port spe­cific eco­nomic sec­tors and high dis­cre­tionary ex­pen­di­ture.

The TSP, which is the over­ar­ch­ing pol­icy frame­work gov­ern­ing civil ser­vice re­forms, has al­ready won over the IMF, with the in­ter­na­tional fi­nancier de­scrib­ing it as “cred­i­ble” and “com­pre­hen­sive”.

Govern­ment has al­ready started re­tir­ing 3 384 youth of­fi­cers as part of civil ser­vice re­forms an­nounced in the 2019 Na­tional Bud­get.

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