KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — The Perak state health department yesterday retracted an instruction to reduce health workers’ allowances, following disagreements over who has to contribute to a government trust fund account set up to counter Covid-19.
The initial circular by Perak state health department director Dr Ding Lay Ming dated June 21, sighted by CodeBlue, referred to the federal directive issued by Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali on June 1.
Dr Ding’s letter noted that the state health department’s top management team has decided that the pay cuts for the fixed entertainment allowance (ITK) and the fixed public service allowance (ITKA) would be enforced as stipulated in the chief secretary’s statement without exception.
This, she said, would be done as an act of solidarity with civil servants, especially health care workers, in support of the government’s effort to contain the epidemic.
“The reduction will be implemented throughout July, August and September 2021, based on the rate prescribed in the directive.
“The state department welcomes this noble decision as a sign of unity among members of the civil service in support of the government’s effort to address the Covid-19 pandemic that is proving to be an uphill battle,” said Dr Ding in the now retracted circular.
Ding confirmed with CodeBlue yesterday that the circular is withdrawn.
Mohd Zuki’s federal directive on June 1 stipulated that all civil servants — with the exception of “frontliners” and public servants from Grades 1 to 28 — will contribute a portion of their ITK and ITKA allowances into the country’s Disaster Trust Fund account.
His statement, however, did not clearly specify who is considered a “frontliner”. The term is often loosely used and carries varied meanings, referring not only to personnel in the health sector, but in defence and economic sectors as well.
Medical groups have previously sought clarity if reductions of civil servants’ allowances will affect health care workers who do not directly handle Covid-19 patients.
Amrahi Buang, president of the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS), said the term “frontliner” should be inclusive of all health care workers.
Mohd Zuki said contributions from over 800,000 civil servants, not inclusive of frontline personnel and public servants from Grades 1 to 28, are estimated to be worth more than RM30 million.