The Public Service Department (JPA) has announced that new doctors, nurses, engineers and other professionals joining the civil service starting 1 January 2020 would not receive an additional allowance of monthly RM750 under the Critical Service Incentive Payment (BIPK)
In a circular issued on 20 December, JPA said that they are eliminating the BIPK for government workers across 33 Critical Service schemes who will be appointed starting 2020.
The announcement affects new medical officers, pharmacy officers, dental officers, as well as lecturers in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy, including engineers and other professionals.
However, JPA clarified that current civil servants in those schemes, including contract workers whose contracts are renewed, will continue receiving the allowance.
The reason behind the elimination of the BIPK, the circular explained, is that it was not meant to be a permanent fixture and is being revoked for the 33 service sectors as they are no longer deemed critical
The critical allowance was introduced by the government in 1992 under Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's previous stint in office for jobs that were difficult to fill and had low recruitment.
However, a 2019 review found that these jobs no longer met those criteria, the circular revealed.
"As a matter of principle, the BIPK allocation is not permanent and can be withdrawn when the relevant service schemes are no longer critical," JPA said in an FAQ accompanying its circular dated 20 December.
"After the last review in 2007, the newest review was conducted in 2019 and found that all 33 service schemes allocated with the BIPK no longer fulfil the original criteria for providing the BIPK, which are a low offer rate and difficulty in filling vacancies," the FAQ added.
While JPA stated that this will affect all 33 civil service schemes, according to health industry news site Code Blue, the National Audit Department listed 38 schemes that received the allowance.
"So it is unsure which 33 of the 38 Critical Service schemes, according to JPA, will no longer provide the BIPK allowance for new recruits," Code Blue's report on JPA's announcement read.
Following the announcement, several leaders from the government including the opposition have expressed their disagreement
In a tweet posted earlier on Wednesday, 25 December, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad remarked "Aduuh!", hoping that JPA would come up with a good explanation for the new policy.
Prior to that, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman took to Twitter last night, 24 December, expressing his dissatisfaction over the move in a video.
"I do not agree with critical allowance cut for our young doctors and nurses, we should not wrong our young doctors and nurses and those in critical services as they are already overworked and underpaid," he said, adding that the government should instead review the allowances given to ministers and politicians.
He then vowed to cut down the amount of annual leave he has, as well as return "every sen" he received in holiday allowance. He said he will ensure other allowances will be reduced as well.
PAS Deputy President Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man urged JPA to reinstate the critical allowance for professionals, saying the cut will burden public servants who are already facing financial difficulties.
"The decision to abolish [the allowance] is unreasonable when compared to the current condition faced by some civil servants who are affected," he was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Najib Razak took a different approach by mocking Syed Saddiq. In a Facebook post that has gone viral, Najib said that Syed Saddiq should WhatsApp his cabinet colleagues who are busy on holiday about the allowance cuts.
He suggested that Syed Saddiq, instead of cutting short his holidays, should message his colleagues.
"Wei, whose idea is it to eliminate critical allowances for doctors and nurses? A lot of people are mad about it. Do you want to lose GE14? Please reverse the JPA order immediately."
On the other hand, private clinics in the country are now free to set how much to charge for consultation fees: