CHINA / Regional

Most well-paid gov't staffer removed
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-13 06:54

The alleged dismissal of China's most well-paid government employee, in East China's Jiangsu Province, has reignited controversy over the new "contracted government employees" system.

yan bing The alleged dismissal of China's most well-paid government employee, in East China's Jiangsu Province, has reignited controversy over the new "contracted government employees" system.
Yan Bing

Yan Bing, formerly a successful businessman experienced in Sino-Japanese economic exchanges, signed a contract with the Wuxi municipal government in 2004 to be the city's chief government representative attracting investment from Japanese enterprises.

The contract stipulated that Yan must bring at least 10 Japanese business delegations to visit Wuxi and attract at least US$50 million in investment from Japanese enterprises per year in order to receive his 500,000 yuan (US$62,500) annual salary reportedly the highest wage paid to a government employee at that time.

But the Shanghai-based Eastern Morning Post has reported that Yan was dismissed after failing his 2005 performance review, bringing in only US$10 million in his second term.

Yan's alleged dismissal, similar to his hiring two years ago, has provoked much discussion about the efficiency of the contracted government employee system.

Defined in the newly revised Civil Servant Law as an emergency measure to supplement the government's shortage of talent in certain specialized positions, the institution of contracted government employees has been adopted by a dozen of Chinese provinces and autonomous municipalities since 2004.

The contracted government employees are generally recruited on short-term contracts with pay levels many times higher than those of regular civil servants, but they carry no administrative titles and exercise no administrative power, according to Ma Jingren, professor with the School of Management at Shenzhen University.

The contracted government employees are not counted toward any government hiring quotas and do not enjoy any benefits or perks typically associated with civil service positions.

More significantly, they may have their jobs terminated due to poor performance, said Ma.

The new system is now under the spotlight again. Some hoped that it might cut through a civil service system known for its vast size but low efficiency.

"By introducing market elements and contract relationships, the programme provides a solution to the problems of narrow exits for government workers, life tenure and irrational promotion of personnel," said Zeng Li, head of human resources at a government bureau in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province.

But according to a professor surnamed Kong with the Department of Political Administration in Nanjing University, these contracted employees are limited to technical or consultative positions and represent only a small fraction of the civil service, thus the new system is unlikely to bring dramatic change.

In addition, some experts question whether contracted government employees will be able to fulfil their tasks as they are confined to providing services and advice, not decision-making.

"It has been found that as those employees have no administrative power, many regular government workers are unwilling to meet their requests or provide co-operation to them, which will make their work difficult to carry out. Thus this new institution is only recommended for certain technical positions where there is not so much need for administrative power," said Ma Jingren.

Yan said that at times he was frustrated because he did not have the power to call on related bureaux for assistance.

"This shortcoming has greatly influenced my work," Yan said.

Experts have called for State bureaux to further regulate the new system, clearly define the obligations and legal rights of contracted employees, and make the system run efficiently.


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