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Ministry addresses concerns over “non-existent” civil servants

The Ministry of Home Affairs is clarifying the actual number of civil servants amid public concerns over the possible existence of so-called “ghost” positions, according to a senior ministry official.
“This process is part of procedures to ascertain the true number of civil servants in Laos,” Director General of the Civil Servant Management Department, Mr Souvanny Rattanavong, said on Friday.
He spoke to Vientiane Times after leading an event to distribute civil servant identification cards to Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism officials at the National Culture Hall in Vientiane.

Before receiving their cards, ministry officials were told to stand in line and show evidence that they were the persons named on the ID cards, which are designed as ATM cards so they can be used for salary withdrawal.
Other people were not allowed to accept the cards on their behalf, which is seen as another measure to prevent the existence of “ghost” officials. 
The government initiated salary payments for civil servants via bank transfers some years ago, in order to simplify the process.
But some people have expressed concern that without checks it is possible for the government to continue paying salaries into the bank accounts of civil servants who no longer hold a government position.
Mr Souvanny said that every three months each ministry had to submit the names of its civil servants and their bank account numbers to the government before salaries were paid.
Through this process, the Ministry of Home Affairs confirms the number of civil servants to whom the government must pay salaries but this does not actually prove the existence of each civil servant, he added.
But requiring each civil servant to present evidence that they were the true owners of the newly issued ID cards would help the government to determine whether civil servants receiving government salaries really existed.
If the Civil Servant Management Department learnt about the existence of “ghost” civil servants, it would request the cancellation of salary payments into their bank accounts.
The department would also ask the sectors concerned to look into the case and punish the wrongdoer in accordance with the law, Mr Souvanny said.
Mr Souvanny said the government had authorised the Ministry of Home Affairs to partner with the Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Public (BCEL) to issue new ID cards to civil servants in 2018. The cards can be used to withdraw salaries from ATMs. 
The home affairs ministry has distributed the new ID cards to 37 central state agencies as part of the process to double-check the true number of civil servants.
The ministry plans to distribute the cards to nine other central state agencies and complete the distribution of ID cards to civil servants in the provinces in 2020.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update October 28, 2019)

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