Tue, 09 Nov 1999

Deadline set for reassigning closed ministries' staff

JAKARTA (JP): The government has set a deadline to transfer employees of the defunct ministries of social services and information to related state institutions before the Idul Fitri holiday on Jan. 8 next year, an official said on Monday.

"It's better for us to complete the mass exodus before Idul Fitri as we want to see our civil servants celebrate the holiday comfortably," head of the State Employees Administration (BKAN) Sofian Effendi said.

However, he said only Jakarta-based employees of the former Ministry of Social Services were assured of escaping layoffs so far. He said up to 200 of them would work for the State Minister of Social Affairs Office, while the remaining 2,200 would fill new posts at the designated National Board of Social Welfare (BKSN).

Sofian said no definite date was set for the board's inception.

"A presidential decree declaring the establishment of the new board is now being discussed by the President's aides. Hopefully it will be announced later this month," Sofian said as quoted by Antara.

The government has also recommended that local governments at the provincial and regency levels establish social services offices and employ civil servants who formerly worked for the ministry's chapters and branches.

The state-run television network TVRI and state-run radio RRI would become self-funding public broadcasting corporations.

"The change will be beneficial as they will be able to compete with private television and radio stations," Sofian said.

In the past the state electronic media fell under the information ministry.

Sofian said other employees of the former ministry would be placed in either the Ministry of Telecommunications, Ministry of Law and Legislation or Ministry of Home Affairs.

Nationwide protests followed President Abdurrahman Wahid's decision to scrap the two ministries, but the President ruled out reconsidering the move.

Jakarta-based employees of the information ministry said on Monday they rejected the plan to reassign them to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Spokesman for the employees Eddy Nur said he doubted the ministry would be able to accommodate more than 6,000 employees from the closed ministry.

"Is it reasonable to place us in one directorate general under the ministry? It seems that the decision to abolish the ministry was a matter of trial and error," he said.

Meanwhile, House of Representatives factions agreed in a plenary session on Monday to exercise their interpellation rights to summon the President for a hearing concerning his decision.

The date and the content of the hearing will be discussed further, House Speaker Akbar Tandjung said.

"The House will adjust the time set for the hearing to the President's schedule."

He said Abdurrahman, who is currently on a whirlwind tour of Southeast Asian countries and will visit the U.S. on Thursday, was tentatively expected to brief the House next Monday.

Among expected questions are background information on the decision to abolish the two ministries and proposed measures to ensure the 5,000 employees of the ministries remain at work. (emf)