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Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010


Salaries of public servants

The National Personnel Authority on Aug. 10 recommended cutting the salaries of national public servants by an average 1.5 percent, or ¥94,000 yearly, and reducing their annual bonuses to 3.95 months worth of salary from the current 4.15 months.

The Democratic Party of Japan's election manifesto calls for a 20 percent cut in total personnel costs for national public servants. There is the opinion that the government should go deeper than the personnel authority's recommendations in cutting salaries and bonuses. But it must be remembered that central government workers are denied the right to strike and have limited basic labor rights. The personnel authority makes recommendations to bring salaries and bonuses in line with what prevails in the private sector. The government should do as the personnel authority recommends.

The authority differentiated salary levels in accordance with age brackets of central government workers. The salaries of those in their 30s or younger will be maintained to keep their morale high and attract people fresh from school to government sector jobs. But the salaries of those aged 40 or older will be cut by 0.1 percent, with an additional cut of 1.5 percent imposed on those who will be 56 or older in fiscal 2010.

The larger cut for senior national public servants points up a contradiction caused by the DPJ government's personnel policy. It has prohibited arranging postretirement positions for public servants in private firms under the jurisdiction of their former ministries and agencies — a practice criticized by the public. As a result, many highly paid senior officials opt to continue to work in the government, bloating personnel costs. The government should prepare a bill enabling it to reduce the salaries of these officials.

On the other hand, the DPJ's call for a 20 percent cut in total personnel costs is not well thought out. Even if regional bureaus of central government ministries are transferred to local governments, they will financially burden the latter. Devising ways to maintain the level of administrative services while curbing personnel costs will not be easy.

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