Nearly 60 years after independence leader and President Habib Bourguiba made a show of drinking orange juice during Ramadan to discourage the productivity losses incurred by altered schedules and fasting, the Ministry of Public Service and the corruption watchdog ‘I-Watch’ are waging a two front campaign against civil servant absenteeism and unauthorized reductions in the hours of operation of public administration offices which falls in the midst of a summer month Ramadan.
As part of an overall campaign ‘to uphold the value of work’ and against civil servant absenteeism the Minister of Public Service, Governance and Fight against Corruption, Kamel Ayadi, told ExpressFM that unannounced ‘attendance’ inspections would begin in the Grand Tunis region beginning on Wednesday, June 8, at continue throughout the month of Ramadan which began on Monday.
According to Minister Ayadi, in addition to inspections the campaign will lead to the publishing a report on the costs of absenteeism and administrative measures against employees absent without reason. The Ministry is even going so far as to hold meetings with the national association of physicians to encourage doctors ‘to contribute to the campaign’ by informing them of the costs of excessive distribution of certificates for medical leave, in a second interview later in the day with MosaiqueFM Minister Ayadi “assured that action will be taken against all individuals who participate in the spread of absenteeism.”
The civil society anti-corruption watchdog organization ‘I-Watch’, the Tunisian chapter of Transparency International, is also conducting an awareness campaign ‘#Jayinkom’ against public administration offices which attempt to close early during the already reduced office hours of Ramadan.
Minister Ayadi recognized that absenteeism is only part of the problem, citing “presenteeism” (present but unproductive) employees as another phenomena of focus, although this month’s focus would be on truancy. Ayadi said “Reforming the administration is the mother of the reforms because the administration is the backbone of the state, it costs more and more expensive to Tunisian taxpayer for a decline in quality of service.”
While announcing the launch of the campaign in early May, Ayadi said the situation “cannot be tolerated any longer” and urged civil servants to realize that “human resources are Tunisia’s only wealth and that economic development hinges on a better staff performance and productivity.”
- The overall the public sector wage bill represents 45% of the overall state budget and 14% of GDP.
- 2.7 million working days are lost annually due to short or long-term sick leaves.
- These lost days account for about 4.5% of the overall government wage bill.
- The losses incurred from absences represent 2% of the annual Tunisian budget.