|Civil service reforms boost public competence
|The civil servants at governmental institutions would soon witness positive developments in their work conditions, as promised by the President of the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), Mazen Al Saket. More than 170,000 job seekers are currently registered at the bureau, with 30,000 more expected this summer.
Saket said the long-awaited New Civil Service System would undertake fundamental reforms featuring more fairness in outlining the structure of salaries, as the current structure produces different mishaps and imbalances among the civil servants.
With this, he said, the bureau would develop its policies regarding the selection of potential nominees for the required vacancies in public departments.
Saket stressed the bureau will review the allowances and payments that the government offers to its employees. Thus, the new civil service system introduces a new structure for allowances common to all employees, regardless of rank or location. It enhances the need to ensure gradual increase in salaries in conformity with occupational scales. This would get rid of the current distortion in salaries at public institutions.
The CSB’s system is currently in its final stages, waiting for the government’s endorsement. The system was first announced in November 2003 after extensive negotiations between the bureau and the Ministries of Finance, Education, Health and Social Development. It adapts to the proposals that were advocated by Parliament to better utilize human resources in public departments. Saket pointed out that further amendments to CSB regulations would be ratified to promote transparency. “The main objective of the bureau’s new system is to enhance fairness among employees, improve performance and promote better job opportunities at the governmental department level,” Saket said during a press meeting at the Jordan Press Foundation—Ad Dustour/The Star—last week. “This helps the bureau draw future policies and plans to regulate the employment of qualified Jordanian resources in various jobs inline with the required capacities in the public departments.”
What makes the CBS’ new system crucial is that it could help in alleviating the high rate of unemployment in Jordan. Economists incessantly ask for a speed-up of fundamental reforms to enhance transparency in the performance of the public sector.
Recent criticism targeted the bureau for lacking measures to combat nepotism and favoritism regarding appointments at governmental departments. Saket rejected these charges. “The bureau receives thousands of job applications every year, which relegates previous applicants back down the list as the progression of job seekers changes every time a new applicant registers. It all depends on the qualification and location of job seekers,” he explained. Saket pledges that the new system will give priority to provinces depending on the type of job vacancies they offer. The main features in the CSB’s system affect both categories of civil servants, permanents and “on-contracts”, and tackles the factors that affect the promotion of civil servants.
These include: Performance, education, qualifications, seniority in current position and participation in training programs.
Vacancies for permanent positions are usually filled through prescriptive procedures, while “on-contract” positions are exceptional and temporary. The bureau’s new system treats these categories according to the public sector’s requirements.
Assignments for the “on-contract” are subject to the approval of the prime minister or the concerned minister. Saket said the new system enacts “a score formula for job seekers who will be categorized according to qualifications and education.
From now on, the bureau will take into account the marks that university or college graduates received in their academic studies, along with Tawjihi results.
Those who wish to apply for government vacancies will have also to undergo “competitive tests” that would allow the young generation to work at the public sector. Saket pointed out that a recent study conducted by the bureau found that 3500 job seekers are aged 45. He noted that these applicants would be given the priority at the Ministries of Health and Education. Increasing computer awareness and promoting the decision-making in public departments constitute the main theme of the CSB’s new system, which is part of the government’s effort to enhance administrative reforms.
Saket agreed that the bureau would find it hard to apply the new system if any of the concerned ministries failed to take part in the implementation process. “It only needs to promote the culture of civil service at the public sector,” he stressed. “This culture must show the significance of the civil service rather than focusing on the job itself.” Saket noted that the bureau is working with the Ministry of Administrative Development to ensure better efficiency and transparency in filling the vacancies at public departments.
He also indicated that employees working at the private sector who are on the Social Security Register and obtain salaries that equal or exceed their matching posts in the public sector, would be disregarded from the CSB’s lists. Saket said the bureau will review over 34,000 job applications soon, since their holders are currently working in the private sector and registered at the Social Security Corporation since a long time.
Once job seekers fail to find employment, the CSB established for them a special department called “Employment and Development Unit’ where any of the failed job seekers could obtain a loan to start his/her own business. So far, 50 people benefited from this unit. Saket mentioned that this unit helps the unemployed get a chance in the private sector to enhance the bureau’s relations.