The cabinet on Monday approved extension of the retirement age of public servants by two years from 57, sparking mixed reactions in civil bureaucracy.
The public administration ministry at the weekly cabinet meeting placed a draft for amendments to the Public Service (Retirement) Act 1974, proposing extension of the retirement age for public servants to 59 years from 57.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, chaired the 133rd cabinet meeting at the secretariat.
‘The cabinet has approved the proposal for increase in the retirement age of public servants by two years…Now the government employees will go on retirement at the age of 59 instead of 57,’ cabinet secretary Muhammad Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters after the meeting.
He said that the cabinet had held a lengthy discussion on the annual report of various ministries and divisions which showed that the country’s economy and law and order were better in 2010-11 than before.
A group of mid-level
officials distributed leaflets in the secretariat raising questions whether the move was taken in public interest or for the interest for a few individuals as around 10 of them would go on retirement next month. They expressed concern that it would create unemployment and block the promotion process causing frustration among many aspirants.
The government took the move considering that average life expectancy of the people had increased to 67 from 46 years and entry level age limit increased to 30 years from 27 when the retirement age was fixed at 57 after the country’s independence in 1971, according to the cabinet secretary.
He, however, said that the system of leave preparatory to retirement had been replaced with post-retirement leave and therefore those who would retire before the retirement law was changed by a presidential ordinance would not be the beneficiaries of the extended age limit.
Since parliament is not in session, the new retirement age would come into immediate effect after promulgation of an ordinance through a gazette notification, Mosharraf Hossain told a questioner.
‘We did not have any such proposal on the agenda. At the outset, the cabinet secretary took the permission for the public administration ministry to place the proposal for extension of the age limit of civil servants on a supplementary agenda,’ public administration secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder told New Age.
He said that the ministry had kept the proposal ready, but was not sure that it would be allowed to place the draft in the meeting.
The cabinet secretary said that the prime minister had asked for steps to expedite the promotion process of cadre officials as some were opposing the move fearing it might block their promotions.
‘At the meeting some argued that the move to extend the age limit could further delay promotion of many and cause unemployment,’ he added.
Mosharraf Hossain said that around two lakh posts in government service had remained vacant. ‘The cabinet has given directives for recruitments in vacant posts and as a result the extension of the age limit would not cause any negative impact to civil service.’
The retirement age for the Supreme Court judges is 67 years, while it is up to 65 years for teachers. The retirement age of freedom fighters in government service was extended to 59 years in 2010.
There are around 12 lakh officials and employees in the government service and around 40,000 of them go on retirement every year, according to officials.
The government has long been considering extension of retirement age of public servants, and there have been strong lobbies for and against the move.
The cabinet division in its annual report shows that the country’s reserve and remittance had increased in the current year, putting the economy in a better situation. It said that 92 per cent of the annual development programmes had been implemented during the time when manpower export increased by 2.85 per cent.
It also noted that incidents of serious crimes like killing, robbery and acid attack had decreased in 2010-11.
Monday’s cabinet meeting also endorsed a proposal for allotting one per cent quota for persons with disabilities in government jobs and approved drafts of the Bangladesh Applied Nutrition Research and Training Institute Bill, 2011 and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (Amendment) Bill, 2011, according to the cabinet secretary.
-With New Age input