The Ministry of the Finance and the Public Service on Tuesday, in a circular to all Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Government Departments, Agencies and Public bodies, including government companies and statutory bodies announced sweeping changes to the public sector hiring policy. The circular noted that with immediate effect:
- Steps must be taken to limit the expansion of staff and/or posts in the public sector
- Vacancies in the existing establishment should be filled from within the existing staff structure or by reallocation of duties
- Where it is deemed absolutely necessary to establish new posts, the existing requirement for and approval therefore by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service must be strictly adhered to and detailed justification for such posts will be essential;
- There will be no retroactive approval for the establishment of new posts; and
- In any event, new recruitment must not result in additional expenditure beyond existing budgetary allocations applicable to emoluments
This circular provides the latest indication that the government is moving swiftly to contain the public sector wage bill and implement the terms of the Medium Term Economic Program signed with the International Monetary Fund in January. This program, amongst other things, calls for a containment of public expenditure to within 10% of GDP over the next 4 years.
The move is expected to provide opportunities for career advancement for those currently working in the public sector. However, students graduating from tertiary institutions this year and up to 2013 will be especially hard hit by this policy shift, given the employment constraints currently being experienced in the general economy. It is not immediately clear if the new policy will affect the 2010 class of graduating medical students.