KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has welcomed the government's decision to postpone a plan to end critical service allowance to new professional civil servants next year.
MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran said thousands of junior doctors, dental officers, pharmacists , assistant medical officers and nurses who serve in government healthcare facilities from next year would be affected if the Public Service Department (PSD) were to proceed with the move.
The association, he said, appreciates that the government was giving time for this matter to be discussed in its next cabinet meeting in January.
“We need long term solutions to address these issues which have been talked about and also reported by auditor generals.
“Budgets spent on workforce is an investment. Workforce morale must be looked into. Low motivation and feelings of being under appreciated will affect the delivery of healthcare to our beloved rakyat,” Dr Ganabaskaran said.
He hoped that the views expressed by stakeholders concerning this matter would be taken into account and given due consideration.
“In relation to this, MMA proposes that the government looks into the setting up of a Healthcare Service Commission for the healthcare sector tasked to independently promote, drive improvement, increase efficiency and productivity in the quality of healthcare delivery and public health workforce management including the setting of remuneration scales and promotion rules,” he said.
In a Dec 20 circular, the PSD announced that the government would stop giving the Critical Service Incentive Allowance (BIPK) for new recruits of 33 professions starting next year.
PSD Deputy Director-General (Development) Datuk Suhaime Mahbar said BIPK was introduced in 1992 due to low recruitment in certain sectors at the time and to attract graduates to join public service.
“Critical here does not mean that the job is difficult but it is very difficult to get the expertise.
“For example, there were not many medical graduates back then, therefore the allowance was introduced to attract them to join the public service.
“However, nowadays, we have received 24,756 applications for medical officer posts, exceeding the employment requirement of 15,268,” he said.
Apart from the medical field, Suhaime said other posts affected were architects, marine officers, engineers and pilots as the number of applicants was far higher than the vacancies.
He noted that the abolition of an allowance was not a new thing as it would also be reviewed every five years to determine the necessity.
Suhaime said to date, 27 allowances had been abolished, merged or rebranded since 1992 as they did not meet the granting criteria.
Among them were the Good Conduct Allowance, the Snake Poisoning Allowance, Special Stenographer Allowance, Mail Train Allowance, and Accountant Encouragement Allowance, he said.
“The government will always consider the application and review all public sector allowances based on certain principles, ” he said.
Suhaime did not rule out that BIPK would be reintroduced to attract more experts in new fields to join the public sector to face the era of the fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0).
Commenting on the call for medical officers to continue to receive such allowance due to their workload, Suhaime said many did not know that they were actually eligible to receive 22 other allowances and facilities based on their assigned tasks.
The allowances included Hospital Administration Allowance, Medical On-call Allowance, Flexible Working Hours Allowance for Graduate Medical Officers and Specialist Incentive Payment, he said.
Following intense backlash, the government has agreed to defer such a move until further discussion in the next Cabinet meeting.