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Talk of the Day -- Streamlining efforts result in fatter government?

2014/04/18 19:28:08

Due to its financial dire straits, the government has been pushing hard in its streamlining efforts. Despite this, the number of civil servants has actually increased over the past decade.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Civil Service, the number has increased by more than 9,000 over the past decade, mainly because the number of civil servants employed in local governments has increased rapidly, especially in the two municipalities of New Taipei and Taichung.

The following is an excerpt of a report by the United Daily News on the opposite result of the "streamlining" effort:

Since the government began pushing for the privatization of the country's state-owned enterprises in 2003, the number of civil servants was cut by more than 31,000 over the following two years, according to the Ministry of Civil Service.

From 2005, however, the number has increased by between 1,000 and 2,000 each year.

It soared to 346,000 in 2013, up 2,198 from the previous year, setting a nine-year high.

The central government can certainly boast of its streamlining results, having cut its personnel to 187,000 at the end of last year from the 201,000 at the end of 2004.

Local governments, however, have had problems getting their weights down.

Taking the five special municipalities as an example, the number of civil servants in New Taipei recorded the largest increase of 34.6 percent, or 20,495 in 2013, up from 15,231 in 2003.

Taichung's local government employees also increased by 19.7 percent, from 12,937 in 2003 to 15,483 in 2013.

In comparison, the three other municipalities have exercised more restraint, with Tainan increasing by 2.9 percent and Kaohsiung increasing by 0.5 percent.

Taipei had the best performance with a decrease of 4,531, down 15 percent from 30,541 to 26,011 over the past decade.

Outside of the five municipalities, Penghu County has employed the highest number, with an increase of 50 percent to 2,800 from 1,800 over the past decade. Taoyuan County has also increased by 27 percent to 10,094 over the same period.

The ministry's report has given rise to questions about the government's efforts to streamline personnel. But the Directorate- General of Personnel Administration has clarified that the central government has cut its number and that it is the local governments that have increased their personnel.

But sources said the central government is cutting the number in name only, as it does not count those excluded from the official payroll -- dispatch workers.

The central government employed around 10,000 dispatch workers in 2013, compared with the local governments' combined total of only 3,000 dispatch workers.

Meanwhile, New Taipei and Taichung said that although the numbers on their payrolls have increased, the total payments have decreased due to personnel budget constraints.

New Taipei also said that the Ministry of Civil Service bases its statistics on a specific timeframe that could be misleading.

It argued that if year-end figures are used as a basis, the number of employees in the New Taipei city government would be 18,201 in 2013, up just 601 from 17,600 in 2012.

(By Lilian Wu)