Monday, January 10, 2011

Continued slowdown triggers downsizing of bureaucracy across countries; pay cuts suggested

IN India, bureaucracy has always been an elite service. The bureaucrats are rich, highly privileged and in many ways more powerful than most politicians in the country. During the recent economic downturn, the Indian bureaucrats with a 6th pay commission-given bonanza remained highly secured whereas those in private sector including top CEOs went through a harrowing time.
As India is chasing a double digit growth story, no one has raised the issue of an ever increasing number of bureaucrats and even the inflated kitty to sustain them. But Indian bureaucrats must not ignore the global trend of downsizing of bureaucracy and regular objections to their fat salaries.
Here is a classic example of how Western media has handled this subject. A recent report in a respected newspaper in Britain said that top bureaucrats of the local authorities should be paid less to save money which could be used for better disposal of garbage. The waste generated by the Christmas celebrations triggered the recent debate whether reducing bureaucrats’ salary could be a way out to manage the bin service better!
In Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev disappointed many bureaucrats when he recently ordered cuts in the bloated bureaucracy which could result in 20 percent reduction of officials in the next three years. The downsizing of Russia’s federal bureaucracy is expected to save USD 1.3 billion. In Canada too, high salaries of top bureaucrats has generated debate.
According to reports, the average salary of a bureaucrat working in New York is about Rs 5 lakh if the amount is converted into Indian rupee. The highest paid bureaucrat, according to a Reuters report, works for Roswell Park Cancer Institute Corporation with a cool pay package of $580,000 (or Rs 2.6 crore) per annum.
Even the Chinese government has recently issued strict guidelines of austerity as the cost of the bureaucrats’ foreign junkets including trips to Las Vegas amount to about USD 60 billion per year.

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