'No strategic management of public bodies for 20 years'

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 21-01-2020 11:55:00 · 0 Comments

The chair of Portugal’s tripartite body for pay and conditions, the Economic and Social Council (CES), has denounced what he said has been an absence of strategic management in public administration over the last 20 years, with the focus having all been on salaries and reducing the size of the state.

"For practically 20 years there has not been strategic management for the public administration; there has been management for the reduction of staff," António Correia de Campos told Lusa, adding that the state does not, as some argue, employ too many civil servants.

The subject is to be debated at a conference organised by the CES on Tuesday in Lisbon, entitled "Public Administration and Public Interest: from the last 20 years to the next 20", that is to be addressed by the minister of state for modernisation and public administration, Alexandra Leitão.

At a time when civil servants are due to strike on 31 January against the government's proposal of a 0.3% salary increase, Correia de Campos said that salary concerns are important, but regretted that they have over-ridden the concerns to do with strategic management.

"The administration has stopped or greatly mitigated its reform efforts over the past 20 years and practically only debated salaries, progressions, careers," he said.

As for the reduction in the number of workers, Correia de Campos said that this erosion, which occurred mainly in the years of crisis, between 2012 and 2014, was due to demographic reasons, retirement, and the ageing of people who left for legitimate reasons.

He added, however, that the departure of many workers have left "holes" in the state, as experienced and highly capable employees have not been replaced.

On the qualifications of civil servants, Correia de Campos said that, compared to the private sector, the average level in public administration is much higher, because there are many people with undergraduate degrees, Master's degrees and doctorates, including secondary-school teachers, doctors or nurses

However, he said, there are huge gaps in a management capacity; he cited the training of expert staff, especially managers, as perhaps the worst failing of recent times.

He highlighted the Simplex programme to streamline bureaucracy as "excellent” because it has simplified the lives of citizens, families and companies.

Correia de Campos, a former Socialist minister of health, was elected president of the CES in October 2016 and is nearing the end of his term. In December the governing Socialist Party proposed his reappointment, but the motion failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority in parliament.

When asked if he would be ready to see his nomination put to a second vote in parliament, Correia de Campos declined to answer.


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