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For those aspiring for a government job or an increase in vacancies or waiting for the seniors to retire, the discussions at the ongoing session of parliament may have come as a disappointment.

A motion to increase the retirement age of civil servants to 60 years has been shot down albeit confusions. Members and commissioners of constitutional offices will not have to resign and could go back to their previous job or in other agencies.

For many, it is recognition of what needs to be done as we look for solutions to problems and discrepancies that the political transformation has brought along the way. The other half would disagree to the extent that they are convinced that the decisions are biased in protecting turfs, interests and benefits.

The debates reflect what people feel too. Some are concerned about losing qualified and experienced individuals in the civil service and with constitutional offices at their prime age. Some are worried about stagnation and some, about survival after retirement. All these are valid reasons.

The bureaucracy is important. It is the machinery which the elected government relies on in implementing its plans and polices. To a large extent the success of the government would depend on the capacity of the bureaucracy. At the same time we are also talking about the need for greater mobility among bureaucrats and other professionals alike as the society opens up and more opportunities are created.

Members and commissioners of the constitutional offices are chosen from the best of the best with an equal responsibility to shoulder. The debate that the Constitution disallows their continuity is not true. The provision of having to retire after five years or when they reach the age of 65 years is for the constitutional post holders. Members and commissioners are not post holders.

However, while cutting short the career of members and commissioners at their prime age and experience is seen as a drawback, many civil servants are talking about the lack of growth opportunities. Therefore, many find, for instance, Australia as the best opportunity even if the job is not as cushy as it is at home.

 The civil service also has the problem of not being able to fire non-performers. They push them around waiting for their superannuation.

A lot of options were explored, including raising perks and entitlements, leaving open a second term and not sending them to the parent ministry or agency that they came from. There is also the concern of members and commissioners having to serve at a different level at what grades and positions.

The debate will continue even after the decision is passed. But it is important that some difficult decisions are made in the larger interest of the country and benefit of the people.

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