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Civil servant reduction efforts unlikely to meet target: minister

The government’s goal to reduce the number of civil servants from 2.3 percent of the population at present to just 1.8 percent by the end of this year is unlikely to be met, a minister has said.
The government has set the target in its national agendas, which were formulated to address financial and economic difficulties as well as the issue of narcotic drugs.
Set to be concluded this year, the agendas were allocated to all state departments for incorporation into their work plans.
Addressing a question raised by members of the National Assembly’s 9th legislature at their recent 4th ordinary session, Minister of Home Affairs Dr Thongchanh Manixay said Laos was unlikely to achieve this goal.
The government is committed to cut excessive number of civil servants and downsize state organisational structure in an attempt to cut unnecessary spending, while streamlining public service delivery.
“We have only one year left to achieve the 1.8 percent target, but this is a considerably challenging target,” Dr Thongchanh told lawmakers.
Statistics for 2022 show that 175,058 civil servants have been employed nationwide. This was a decrease from the 184,871 figure recorded in 2019, which represented 2.8 percent of the country’s population.
The 2.8 percent figure meant that Laos had the second largest proportion of civil servants out of the 10 Asean member countries, with Brunei holding the top spot, according to Lao authorities. In light of this high proportion, the government has attempted to reduce the number, mainly by lowering the annual intake of new civil servants.
The government resolved to recruit just 800 new civil servants this year and asked the National Assembly to approve this plan.
If approved, this would be a huge drop from the 1,300 new civil servants recruited last year, the 1,600 approved in 2021, and 2,000 accepted in 2020.
Officials say the number of civil servants is gradually falling because more people are leaving their posts than are being recruited.
In 2021, as many as 2,548 civil servants left their jobs for various reasons, mostly due to retirement. Last year, 3,134 civil servants vacated their posts, according to statistics from the ministry’s Civil Servant Management Department.
However, Dr Thongchanh admitted that the reduction in numbers was taking place more slowly than expected, especially compared to the advances made in dissolving and merging various state bodies.
As many as 1,146 state departments and units at various levels have been dissolved since 2021, according to the minister.
He explained that progress was slow because officials who had not reached retirement age were relocated to other departments when theirs was disbanded.

By Times Reporters
 (Latest Update January 17, 2023)


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