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“Sufficient” public service

Guilherme Rego

Around 38,000 civil servants. This is the limit imposed by the government headed by Ho Iat Seng. Whatever happens, it cannot be exceeded. The needs of the population will have to be in line with this human ceiling. No explanation is given for the magic number; the criteria used have not been made public. However, even with a practice higher than that imposed in Chui Sai On’s time (36,000 workers maximum), this government has already slimmed down substantially. From more than 38,000 employees in 2020, it has gone down to 34,286 – a drop of almost 4,000 in four years.

The Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong, summarizes the argument (too much even): “This number is suficient,” he said when talking about the Government Action Guidelines (LAG) in the Legislative Assembly. Paradoxically, he admits that some public services may be short of workers. But the reinforcement of these departments was not emphasized.
There is a question of balance between the number of employees and the demands placed on the services provided. The needs of the population will tend to be greater, regardless of advances in e-government. Just remember that the Macau Public Administration has to extend to Hengqin. Meanwhile, more and more civil servants are complaining about taking work to their homes.

Four thousand departures are an abysmal figure in a city with less than 700,000 inhabitants – it would be in a country of considerable size. And replacement is not a top concern. The slimming down of the civil service may be based on various factors; it may even have its raison d’être. But then let’s objectively defend the current number and the limit for the future. Today, the government’s control plan fails to clarify the population it serves, and which is directly affected by this decision. Furthermore, a “sufficient number” is not an “optimal number”. That should be the criterion that underpins the reform of Public Administration. Working towards Olympic minimums does not translate into good human resource management.

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