JPA: Civil Servants’ Critical Allowance Costs RM1Bil In 2020

The public sector faces an oversupply of thousands of doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and nurses.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — The Public Service Department (JPA) today insisted that the critical allowance for professionals entering the civil service next year could be abolished, despite widespread protests from public health workers.

JPA noted that the Critical Service Incentive Payment (BIPK) was estimated to cost the government RM1.05 billion next year, rising to RM1.24 billion in 2022, based on a projected 135,902 recipients as of December 31, 2017.

“After a 2007 review, the latest review in 2019 found that all 33 service schemes allocated with the BIPK no longer fulfil the original criteria for giving the BIPK because they no longer fulfil the criteria of a low offer rate and difficulty in filling vacancies, as the number of candidates applying for a position outnumbers the current needs of the particular position,” JPA said in a statement.

JPA also stressed that the BIPK, which was introduced in 1992, aimed to attract candidates to certain government jobs at a time of insufficient human resources in certain sectors, and that the “critical level” of a particular service would change according to circumstance and need.

“In this context, the critical aspect doesn’t refer to work done in certain service schemes.”

Public Service Department (JPA)

According to JPA, there is an oversupply of 9,488 medical officers, 12,141 pharmacy officers, 1,736 dental officers, 10,662 nurses, and 121 medical assistants, as the number of job applications far outstrips the number of vacancies.

The BIPK critical allowance is RM750 monthly for doctors, pharmacists and dentists, and up to 15 per cent of the monthly basic salary for nurses. For other professionals in the civil service, it’s between 5 and 10 per cent of their monthly basic salary.

Oversupply of other professionals in the once-dubbed Critical Service schemes allocated with the BIPK mostly range from tens of thousands to even over 200,000 (research officers). The only job without excess applications is legal officers, with all 94 contract positions filled.

Including public health workers, JPA listed the job application and vacancy rates for 20 service schemes: architects, marine officers, engineers, pilots, quantity surveyors, research officers, legal officers, vocational training assistant officers, airplane inspectors, factory machinery inspectors, assistant factory machinery inspectors, instructors (assistant medical officers), air traffic control officers, assistant air traffic control officers, and show producers.

It’s unknown what the job application and vacancy rates are for the other 13 service schemes that receive the critical allowance — assistant marine officers; assistant airplane inspectors; medical lecturers; dental lecturers; pharmacy lecturers; UiTM and university lecturers in engineering, law, nursing, quantity surveying, architecture; education service officers (engineering and craftsmanship); higher education officers (engineering, quantity surveying, and architecture); economic affairs officers at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and Matrade; agriculture officers (engineering); fishery officers (engineering); and electrical machinery custodians.

JPA said existing government workers and staff appointed from January 1, 2020, still enjoyed various allowances based on occupational risk, hardship, expertise, and skills, despite the abolition of the BIPK.

JPA highlighted UD41 housemen’s flexi allowance of RM600 monthly, on-call allowance for medical officers, and a Specialist Incentive Payment for medical and dental specialists ranging from RM1,600 to RM3,100 a month.

“Besides medical and health classifications, the pilot or pilot inspector scheme receive a Pilot Incentive Payment of between RM4,500 and RM8,000 monthly.”

JPA pointed out that 27 allowances have been abolished throughout the implementation of the New Remuneration Scheme (SSB) after it started in 1992, while nine allowances, including the BIPK, were repealed in its 2019 circular.

“In this matter, the abolition of allowances is not something new and reviews to strengthen the provision of allowances will continue to be done from time to time.”

Several ministers — Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah — yesterday demanded an explanation from JPA, even though JPA stated that the decision to cancel the critical allowance was made in this year’s first Special Cabinet Committee Meeting on Public Service Reforms chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. JPA also said today that this was informed at a Cabinet meeting.

Various MPs across the divide like Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, Kubang Kerian MP Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, and Ayer Hitam MP Wee Ka Siong have similarly denounced the repeal of the critical allowance for public health workers hired from January 1, 2020.

Dzulkefly tweeted earlier today that he has asked Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, Health Ministry secretary-general Dr Chen Chaw Min, and Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah for an immediate meeting with JPA to discuss the cancellation of the critical allowance.

“I will monitor the development of this issue. The needs of each ministry are surely different and this must be brought to Cabinet again.”

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim also said in a statement that the first Cabinet meeting in 2020 should review the matter again in light of public anxiety.

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