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Public payroll unsustainable in its current structure (updated)

The state payroll is not sustainable the way it is currently structured, experts studying the reform of the public sector have found.

Reform commissioner Emanuella Lambrianides said what made the payroll unsustainable was the way it was structured, which does not promote productivity.

“The way it is structured, with the system of automatic pay rises does not promote productivity and performance,” Lambrianides said.

This was among the preliminary findings of experts from the UK and the World Bank who are working with the government to reform the state sector.

Lambrianides said promotions should no longer be automatic.

“The promotion procedure in the public sector must be made more competitive so as to ensure the suitable people … end up in the top positions,” Lambrianides said.

The experts say that clear and transparent evaluation criteria must exist and reviewers must justify their decisions.

Under the current system, the overwhelming majority of civil servants are rated excellent and their performance has little, if nothing, to do with their promotion.

Lambrianides said changes will not be implemented from one day to the next. Experts will make proposals on a series of measures that will improve the performance of the public service.

“From then on the government will decide, after consulting with all involved, which measures to implement and when,” Lambrianides said.

The experts had carried out their first audits between September and October and a second phase is scheduled for next month.

Among their first findings was that the results did not reflect the huge amount of money spent on education; certain services at the agricultural ministry could be streamlined to save money, and there is a need for state hospitals to gradually become autonomous.

The studies must be completed by March 2014 and changes agreed by June, Lambrianides said.

The commissioner said consultations, understanding, and exchange of views was very important.

In an indication of how it planned to approach the matter, government workers union PASYDY rejected the findings.

“The payroll was set by experts,” PASYDY chief Glafkos  Hadjipetrou said, it did not come out of the blue.

The union has already filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against Lambrianides’ appointment, which they consider illegal.

PASYDY claims the appointment was unconstitutional and has no legal basis.

President Nicos Anastasiades warned the union on Saturday that it was deluding itself by believing it would avoid modernisation of the public sector by resorting to legal obstacles.

Anastasiades said the government was determined to see modernisation of the public sector through, with or without the union.

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