The Cabinet’s plan to follow up the reform of the Bureau of Labor Insurance and the Bureau of National Health Insurance by designating more than 1,000 employees as civil servants and therefore eligable for pension entitlements has met with disapproval from the Examination Yuan. Examination Yuan President John Kuan (關中) has said that he would not allow this to happen.
It is rare for the Examination Yuan, which has always been a weak institution, to stand up to the Cabinet and its stance exposes the truth behind the government’s organizational reform. The restructuring was intended to streamline agencies and staff, but although some agencies have disappeared, the number of civil servants has actually increased, inflating the government’s expenditure on salaries and pensions. The Cabinet should take the Examination Yuan’s warning seriously, because if it tries to use its superior power to ignore Kuan it will be humiliated.
Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) has disagreed with Kuan. Chen said that the employees in question passed the Examination Yuan exams in the past and have had certificates issued by both the Examination Yuan president and the premier, meaning that they qualify for the same treatment as civil servants. He is wrong: These employees passed a financial test administered by the Examination Yuan, which was designed for technical staff or used for promotions. It was not a test to obtain civil servant qualifications. Therefore the test is not enough to upgrade them to regular civil servant status.
Article 85 of the Constitution states that “in the selection of public functionaries, a system of open competitive examination shall be put into operation: No person shall be appointed to a public office unless he is qualified through examination.”
Article 2 of the law regulating civil servant exams further states that civil servants shall be selected through a system of open, competitive examination and that no person shall enjoy special privileges based on their status. That law also states that in case of discrepancy with other laws, this law should take precedence. The rules are clear. There are no gray areas.
More than 700 employees at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications also find themselves in a similar situation to the employees of the two bureaus. Trying to use organizational restructuring as a reason to incorporate all these employees into the civil servant system will not only raise salary payments, but also the government’s retirement payments, which will increase by more than NT$10 billion (US$345 million).
With the government’s current fiscal difficulties, payments for health insurance, labor insurance and pensions for public sector workers are already causing difficulties. Add this to the current debate over the increasing burden on the Treasury and it is easy to see why the Cabinet’s proposal is unacceptable to everyone. At a time when the Democratic Progressive Party is preparing to hold a big anti-government demonstration, the Cabinet should not ignore public opinion.
The “government reform” slogan has been exposed as a lie. The number of civil servants is increasing, human resource expenditures are exploding and the government has failed to streamline operations. Instead, it has become more bloated.
To incorporate employees lacking the required qualifications into the ranks of the civil servant sector is a violation of equality requirements, recruitment and qualification system regulations, the Constitution and legislation governing the hiring of civil servants.