South Sudan: South Sudan aims to weed out 'rogue' staff in ministries
South Sudan aims to weed out 'rogue' staff in ministries
South Sudan's new government is to screen ministries to try to weed out "rogue" employees who account for up to 65 percent of the civil service workforce, an official said on Wednesday.
The labour and public services ministry sent a letter to ministries last week on public sector reform that puts deputy ministers at the head of committees to screen all employees, Deputy Information Minister Atem Yaak told reporters.
"One of the ministers here was talking about 65 percent of the workforce being unqualified," with most of them not on permanent pay, Yaak said.
The 2011 budget has allocated 2.43 billion South Sudanese pounds (around $820 million at the official exchange rates) on government salaries, which represents 42 percent of total spending.
"Salaries are very high by developing countries' standards. It's very expensive to maintain this bureaucracy," Yaak said. "There is a lot of incompetence" and nepotism.
South Sudan seceded from the north in July after decades of civil war that left the country in ruins and only 16 percent of people literate, according to the education ministry.
The labour and public services ministry has been cracking down on ghost employees, and it nabbed 21 people "in senior positions" with fake certificates last month alone.
"There are more. I have a feeling that some could be in their thousands," Yaak said.
A pension law is one of the many tasks that the fledgling nation is working on, but until then, Yaak said that senior citizens were lingering in ministries.
He said the "spirit of reconciliation" in a nation that spent decades fighting for its freedom has led to a bloated public payroll.
President Salva Kiir has pledged to cut back on the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which opposition party leader Lam Akol says still takes up 40 percent of the peacetime budget.
The lack of infrastructure and a strong private sector leaves the government as by far the biggest employer.
Kiir has also repeatedly vowed to crack down on rampant corruption that is seen as the country's major stumbling block to development.
South Sudan's National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday reported a 61.5-percent leap in inflation in September, compared to the same month of 2010.
Yaak pins hopes on public sector reform. "The process needs a lot of work. We need honest people who are trained. What was the point of becoming independent if we can't put our house in order?" he asked.
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