To curb multi-dippers problemBiometric System launched [Archives:2005/876/Front Page]

September 12 2005

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
President Ali Abdullah Saleh launched last Wednesday the new biometric system, using photo and finger print card, for government employees with the objective of identifying multi-dippers and ghost workers.

Saleh announced that the number of multi dippers is roughly estimated at 60,000.

“This means that 60,000 vacant posts will be made available for new university graduates. We have been talking about the problem of multi-dippers for five years and prepared programs, spending a lot of money to eliminate it,” Saleh said. He added that this time he is optimistic that all government institutions will cooperate with civil service ministry eliminate this problem.

The project will cost 4 million euros provided by the World Bank (WB).

With the support of the WB and International Monetary Fund, Yemen has been carrying out a reform package program since August 1995. Part of the overall reform package is the administrative reform meant to modernize civil service. The Civil Service Modernization Project is the basis for a long-term reform strategy, and this operation will focus on the creation of institutions, capacity, and systems, for sustained human, and financial resources development, according to WB reports.

The project has five components: 1) improvements in core systems will require technical assistance for the selection, and preparation of priority reforms, to be later implemented in Phase II. Computerization of core systems will be established, and, extensive training will be provided, through specific modular courses on new core systems, and skills. Sub-components include financing, and training for human resources, and personnel information management development, including payroll, and accounting information management best practices; 2) technical assistance will be provided to create a civil service fund, and establish its policy framework regarding retirement, redundancy, and severance options; 3) the re-engineering process will streamline, and rationalize organizational structures, simplify business processes, and establish basic information systems; 4) capacity building will focus on the a) skills needed to sustain the reform program, and, b) managing skills to administer civil service; and, 5) the component aims at providing a program management structure, through technical support to accomplish standard supervision, and performance audits.

The multi dippers problem was recognized by the civil service ministry as one of the challenges of the administrative reform. The ministry announced in 2002 that there are over 16, 000 multi dippers and ghost workers.

Yet, people complained and 90% of them were returned to their jobs as the process wad done through computer on the basis of similarity of the names.

“We are quite sure that multi dippers and ghost workers can be more than 60,000 unfolded by the preliminary investigations; there are people who hold multi jobs in the civil service and the military or security and there are others who even hold more than one job in two sectors within the civil service itself. There are people who receive salaries without performing any job like businessmen, expatriates and others,” Minister of Civil Service and Insurance Hamoud al-Sufi told Yemen Times.

He said that he is this problem will be eliminated after six months.

This problem exists, according to al-Sufi, because various government institutions were eligible to employ and therefore, it was possible for one person to get two or three jobs in different places. It was not easy for the government to discover that due to the lack of a computerized database. Therefore, the government payroll soared up to more than 470,000. At over 15 percent of GDP in 2005, the government wage bill continues to weigh heavily on the budget. However, he said that this number of employees in the civil service is of very low product and most of them are incompetent.

“People having multi jobs is a good environment for corruption. And when we target it, of course, we target the interests of many people. This is why we are harshly criticized by people and sometimes by media, but we are very serious about it as we will all feel its fruitful results in the future.”

Some influential figures at the power center, mainly at the army and security, strongly opposed this new system, claiming that it will reveal the secrets of the army. But, Saleh was supportive to the civil service minister and issued a republican decree including both the army and security in this system.

“We have already restored $15 million from those 10, 000 employees who already resigned from one of their jobs. You can imagine how much we will save when multi dippers are all spotted by the biometric system. It is a lot of money being wasted,” he stated.

He pointed out that this new system will enable the government to have computerized database, establish 22 local information centers, improve capacity building through re-engineering process, and the new wages and salaries system, and curb bureaucracy. It will also make the civil service ministry the only door to employment. The comprehensive civil service reform program, to al-Sufi, aims to create a leaner, better paid and more effective civil service at large.

Mustapha Rouis, the WB Country Manager stressed the importance of the new system in addressing the administrative inadequacies and in increasing transparency.

“Performance of the current public administration is seriously deficient. This is caused by inadequacies in areas of personnel management, programming, planning and budgeting, to mention a few,” he told Yemen Times.

“Through the WB support to the Civil Service Modernization Program, it is hoped that duplication, non-essential services and multi-dippers will be eliminated, that there will be an increase in the transparency of procedures and an improved budgeting and financial management systems to help ensure efficient and transparent use of public funds,” Rouis added.

The work in the project which will definitely decides the fate of reforms will commence probably on October 10th as president Saleh asked the civil service ministry to give 30 days chance for multi dippers to choose one of their jobs. al-Sufi said that those who will declare their having more than one jobs will be given a chance to choose the best one while those who will miss the 30-day ultimatum will be dropped out of the government payrolls completely. He said that the system will be applied to both the civil service and the security and military.