September 13, 2019

Government Is Changing Rules To Compete With Private Sector For People With Top Skills

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Public Service and Labour Minister Fanfan Rwanyindo Kayirangwa appearing in parliament at different previous session

Parliament is considering an amendment to the public service law in which government wants to do away with a decades-old system limiting its ability to hire people with rare skills.

Public Service and Labour Minister Fanfan Rwanyindo on Friday tabled the amendment bill in the Chamber of Deputies.

Rwanyindo is proposing changes to the public service recruitment process, to adopted what has been described as ‘direct recruitment’.

A government entity will be able ‘head hunt’ for employees, commonly done in the private sector.

“There are people with a niche of their own and have rare skills. Such a person can be attracted into Public Service as a permanent public servant,” said the Minister to the House.

For years, civil servants have been recruited through a rigid process handled by the private sector. However, despite all having requisite education from school grades, government finds itself with employees unable to executive crucial tasks or innovate.

Part of the reason is because public service pay is very low, which doesn’t attract talented people, who are taken by companies that pay highly. In addition, civil service salaries are paid within a specified structure: you cant be paid more than the person above you.

Some professionals choose to work privately, and end up being hired by government to do some jobs by periodic contracts.

As a result, government, in addition to the permanently employed civil servants, also employs a large pool of contractors.

With the new amendments, heads of government agencies may identity a particular person and may easily woo that skilled individual to join the entity.

Heads of government bodies have repeatedly complained that they are given ambitious targets, but are unable to hire the talents needed to attain the mission.

Richard Tusabe, the director general of the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), that manages health insurance and social security, has particularly been vocal recently.

At press conference releasing annual performance results on August 20, he said he cannot understand how a person earning Rwf 800,000 ($867) monthly salary is expected to manage a trillion francs, which is the current size of RSSB.

He said if the government wants him to develop RSSB, he should be given leeway to hire people who will be able to do the job.

The other new element in the amendments is a reduction to the age for public servants. Currently, a person has to be above 18 years.

The Minister proposes that a person aged 16 years may be employed in public service, which will be granted by authorization of the Minister.

The amendments presented by the labour minister will go through the parliamentary process: committee, back to House, senate, and later presidential assent.

Considering the urgency with which the amendments were brought, it could be law in a few weeks.

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