Civil servants must change spending habits

Posted by SM Maulana
Tuesday, 17 June 2008

By V.K. CHIN

THE decision to pay civil servants twice a month may help them to ease their burden but it is unlikely to achieve this target unless they can improve their financial management.

Even Cuepacs, the Government unions’ umbrella body, has its reservations, apart from the fact that there was no consultation before the announcement was made.

Unless civil servants can change their spending habits, they are likely to have greater difficulty in meeting their financial obligations.

There is a tendency to spend their wages as quickly as possible and they may not have enough to meet their commitments, such as repaying loans, at the end of the month.

Such expenses are normally settled at the end of the month and getting half salary at the end of the month is likely to upset this balance.

Cuepacs is well aware of this situation and its representatives will no doubt want to have talks with the Public Service Department on this issue.

At the same time, with some 1.2 million employees, the new system of payment is going to involve more administrative work since the pay would have to be credited on time to their accounts twice instead of once a month.

There may be less inclination to save with the new measure and they may be extremely short of money at the end of the month.

Instead of helping them, the Government may end up putting them in greater financial difficulties. Perhaps they should be educated on how to manage their money so that they will not overspend.

It is well known that most civil servants immediately spend whatever extra cash they receive and a good example is the special payment at the end of the year.

How many of them put aside the extra money for a rainy day or for their children’s education? With job security and free medical treatment, plus a pension to boot, few of them worry about their future.

Many of them will have taken either car or housing loans, which could take up at least half their salary. They are therefore constantly short of cash and those who are desperate will resort to graft to make up for any shortfall.

In fact many of them, especially those in local councils, do not need any part-time work since they are doing quite well accepting bribes from the public.

As pointed out before, there is no department in a local council where workers cannot get extra “income” if they are prepared to do it illegally.

It is difficult to catch them because those giving coffee money are unlikely to lodge complaints unless the takers fail to fulfil their part of the bargain.

– The Star

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