ALI – Workflow at public sector about to come to a halt due to reassignments

Workflow at public sector about to come to a halt due to reassignmentsThe workflow at public institutions may come to a halt soon due to the arbitrary dismissal of dozens of experienced officials as part of a government-sponsored campaign against a faith-based movement and their replacement by unqualified but government-friendly names. Public officials are unable to concentrate on their jobs as they have been busy, for quite a while, following the dismissal of their colleagues and wondering if they will share the same fate. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has been quickly reassigning dozens of public officials in response to a major graft and bribery operation, which broke out on Dec. 17 of last year and implicated several ex-Cabinet members and senior government officials. The latest purges occurred at the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) last week. The board’s head, Mursel Ali Kaplan, Revenue Administration General Director Mehmet KIlcI and the Budget and Fiscal Control General Director Ilhan HatipoIlu were reassigned on April 30. Also last week, the Capital Markets Board (SPK) dismissed three deputy chairmen and 11 other senior members. Claims emerged in the media that the dismissed officials were told there was no charge against or investigation into them, but they had to be dismissed due to “conditions resulting from the general atmosphere of the country.” The claims led to comments that the reshuffle at the SPK was part of a government backlash to the graft operation. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan has denounced the operation as a plot against his rule. As many as 15,000 police officers and hundreds of members of the judiciary have been reassigned in recent months. In addition, some top officials at the Social Security Institution (SGK), including Ministry of Labor and Social Security Undersecretary Fatih Acar and Vice Chairmen Mehmet Ali SaIlam and Ali Pekten at the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), including the president, Ozan Cangurel at the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB), including the Internet department head, Osman Nihat Ien at the Finance Ministry, including 10 managers of the Revenues Administration (GIB), as well as many officials at the Education Ministry, Family and Social Policies Ministry, Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and Justice Academy have been removed from their posts since Dec. 17. There are rumors that the only criteria in these purges is the “parallel state,” a term the government uses to define the Hizmet movement, which is a grassroots movement based on voluntary participation to spread interfaith dialogue and tolerance with a particular emphasis on education. The government has been at odds with Hizmet since the graft operation and it has been reassigning public officials known or suspected to be close to the movement. Erdal SaIlam, an economist and a columnist from the Hurriyet daily, wrote in his article on April 28 that almost all public officials who do not have close ties to the AK Party government are afraid that they may be removed from their posts soon. According to SaIlam, work at critical economic departments of public institutions has come to a halt due to officials’ concerns about their future. Most of the removed public officials have been appointed to less prestigious positions. Reports appeared in the media recently that ministries are planning to dismiss the reassigned officers in the upcoming weeks. The officials will allegedly be dismissed on charges of engaging in illegal wiretapping activities leaking or destroying important data and misconduct and acquiring information through illegal means. Sunday’s Zaman discussed the arbitrary purge of public officials, which many say is tantamount to a “witch hunt,” with academics and politicians. An academic who wished to remain anonymous due to privacy and security concerns said the government, after the Dec. 17 corruption and bribery investigation, made up a reference as “parallel structure” to go ahead with its planned purge of public officials. “The purges were, in a way, legitimized thanks to speeches made by senior members of the government and publications of the pro-government media,” he said, adding that the government hopes to create groups of officials at public institutions that will comply with its orders without questioning. “The government is replacing public officials with officials that favor the AK Party and the government. It does not question if the new officials are qualified enough for the posts,” he stated. The appointment of unqualified officials to top posts in public institutions leads to cracks in the bureaucracy as those officials do not have the enough experience and qualifications to successfully carry on projects launched by those institutions. “The government is making a big mistake. It thinks that everyone is qualified to do a job. They have entrusted big projects to newly appointed people who have almost no experience in that field,” the academic stated, and pointed to Istanbul Police Chief Selami AltInok, who was appointed after Dec. 17, as an example. AltInok was previously serving as a governor. “[After his appointment] AltInok said he was not familiar with the post of a police chief. His remarks came as an open confession that he has doubts that he will ensure the safety of Istanbul and its residents,” added the academic. ‘Purges like a dynamite’ The academic also likened the arbitrary purges of thousands of public officials to “dynamite” that will blow up the foundations of the state. “A crack between supporters and critics of the government is deepening. Public officials who want to place themselves close to the government and in this way be promoted to higher posts accuse their colleagues of being members of the parallel state. This crack will decrease the productivity of officials and deal a huge blow to a culture of co-working at institutions,” he cautioned. The purged officials are experienced in their field. Their removal from their posts through hasty and arbitrary decisions has led to questions as to whether the government has any idea about what it is actually doing. According to the academic, think tanks and scientific institutions should conduct research into the cost of the purges as the replacement of experienced officials with inexperienced ones will inevitably bring about financial losses to public institutions. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Yusuf HalaoIlu accused the government of not thinking about the performance and future of public institutions. He said the government is creating a class of workers that seeks to receive salaries from the state without working. “On the one hand, the government is dismissing experienced officials, and on the other, it is appointing inexperienced officials to top posts at public institutions. The appointed officials do not have any motivation to work hard and improve themselves as they were easily appointed to those posts,” HalaoIlu said. He also noted that people who do not have close ties to the government will, in time, lose their aspirations to work as public officials as they think they will never be appointed since they are not close to the government. Last week, the government announced its plans to abolish the State Personnel Examination (KPSS). Currently, the Student Selection and Placement Center (SYM) periodically holds the KPSS. The entrants are assigned to positions in state agencies according to their exam score. When the exam is abolished, every ministry will have the chance to organize its own exam. The agencies will also be able to hold oral examinations if necessary. This may lead to the preferential treatment of certain applicants, according to HalaoIlu. “The abolition of the KPSS is a clear indication that ministries will make political decisions when recruiting their staff,” he said. Comparison with private sector Engin Altay, parliamentary group deputy chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said arbitrary and mass dismissal of public officials would be unimaginable in the private sector. According to Altay, if government officials were running a private business place, they would not dare to arbitrarily dismiss experienced workers and appoint inexperienced ones in their place. “If a person is engaged in some practices that he would not do in his own place of business, then he is wasting public resources. No one is allowed to waste public resources in such an uncontrolled manner,” he stated.

SOURCE: Todays Zaman

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