Lao Economy

Officials Ignoring Retirement Age

Stricter enforcement of the retirement regulation is needed to prevent the current problem of officials reaching retirement age but not retiring, a senior government official has said.

The lax enforcement of the law is contributing to Laos’ glut of state employees, with the proportion of public servants in the country higher than in its neighbours.

The excess of state employees means the government has to cope with the heavy spending burden of their salaries.

The Ministry of Home Affairs’ Public Servant Management Department Director General, Mr Vixay Phandanouvong, told Vientiane Times on Friday the ministry is gathering information to find out how many officials have reached retirement age – 60 years old for men and 55 for women – but have not retired.

Mr Vixay said the numbers of state employees retiring was low compared with the number being newly recruited each year.

Statistics show there were 12,550 officials recruited in the 2012-2013 fiscal year. In contrast, only 1,866 left their positions for reasons including retirement but also dismissal due to wrongdoing.

In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, 15,340 were recruited and only 1,627 left office.

At present the Lao government employs 2.36 public servants for every 100 people. In most countries the average is less than two public servants per 100 people.

Mr Vixay stressed the need to reduce the number of public servants because state spending on salaries and supporting allowances was reaching the alarmingly high level of 40 percent of the country’s GDP.

He said such high spending on allowances and salaries could hinder the country’s development.

There are many causes for the employee glut, chief among them being that the government has established four new ministries and their provincial and district bodies with personnel recruited to run the new sectors. The other leading cause is officials who reach retirement age not retiring.

Mr Vixay said elderly officials often feel that upon retirement they will have no value to society so they prefer to prolong their employment, and organisations do not adequately enforce retirement guidelines.

In a recent annual meeting of the Home Affairs Ministry, Mr Vixay suggested incentives should be introduced, like a fund to organise activities for retired officials.

He said prolonging the employment of officials past their retirement age should only be done when it was absolutely necessary.

The director also said the government should refrain from establishing any unnecessary subordinate bodies under ministries or provincial departments.

He said numbers of public servants could be reduced if procedures were reduced and streamlined, and through the integration of modern technology.

Source: Vientiane Times