analysisBy Patrick Van Rensburg
THE Presidential Commission on the Review of Public Service Pay Structures was not appointed to review salaries, but to review public service pay structures. Called the de Villiers Commission, it argued that "any changes in salaries/pay point levels which may come about are consequential and not the result of any deliberate adjustment of salaries" it makes itself.
Be that as it may, it recommended that, in conversion from the old salary structure to the new one, Permanent Secretary (FO) level salaries go up from P302 700 to P378 444, while those of Senior Secondary School Heads go down from P132 996 to P126 744. A1 industrial class workers move from P12 156 to P14 220 a year.
Government has accepted the Commission's recommendations "as amended", resulting "in an average 15% salary increase", to quote Finance Minister Gaolathe.
The Commission's Report has had mixed reactions and a reasonably extensive coverage of its published analysis, findings and recommendations related to salary structures and conversions is of some public interest.
Its Terms of Reference were primarily to review and recommend appropriate pay structures for all cadres in the Public Service, including Judicial Service, Botswana Police Service, Botswana Defence Force, Botswana Prison Service, Teaching Service, Local Government Service, Tribal Administration and Industrial Class.
It had to "examine and rationalise gaps existing between salary grades in all cadres in order to create consistency and smooth transition from one grade to the next, taking account of the relativities between those grades". It had also to examine "overlapping salary scales in various grades and to recommend accordingly".
The Commission defined "pay structure as pay scales attached to grades and the way in which these scales are structured, their range, their slope overlap, differentials and market positioning".
Pay range refers to the "width of the pay scale, i.e. the distance between minimum and maximum pay for each grade". Pay slope is "the percentage difference between the pay for one grade and another".
The pay structure existing when the Commission was established was based on the "Paterson Decision Band" that was introduced in the Public Service in April 1988.
The objectives of that structure, according to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), were: to establish a hierarchy of grades that would reflect the importance of increased responsibility and decision making, and: to ensure as far as possible a smooth progression from one grade to the next, reflecting the level of responsibility of jobs in that grade.
The Commission found, after examining "best practice technical principles" in neighbouring countries and the US, that the old scales "did not meet these objectives". This was also confirmed by stakeholder submissions.
The Commission "clearly understood that job evaluation as an exercise" was "not within the scope of its assignment".
It did, however, study relevant remuneration information as obtained from legislation, white papers, staff establishment registers and other relevant sources. It also engaged the services of a consultancy firm, 21st Century Business and Pay Solutions.
It noted that "although competence recognition is inherent in the (old) system, there is no formal assessment procedure, resulting in departments and managers applying different standards to promote employees based on their perceived competence".
"There is", the Commission notes, "misunderstanding in the various Departments about the differences between Pay Ranges, Structures, Grade Levels and Job Evaluation".
Its Terms of Reference required it to develop proposals for implementing the pay structures and to produce detailed conversion tables from existing salary grades.
Extensive consultations with stakeholders and interested parties took place, as a result of which presentations were made on pay structures and on the relationship between pay structures and performance related reward system".
Four Options were developed, for all of which it was assumed that Government could manage prevailing expectations of state employees concerned with the amount of pay, rather than pay scale structure.
The Commission recommended immediate introduction of Option 1 that is a Unitary Pay Scale applying to all cadres including the Specialist Professional categories and the BDF.
Other Options should be implemented in stages.
The Conversion recommended raised salaries in Grades FO, F1, F2, E1 and E2, and D1, and reduced them in Grades D2, D3, D4, C1, C2, C3, and C4. It raised them in Grades B1, B2, B3, B4 and B5, as well as in A1, A2 and A3.
Expatriate officers are on lower scales, some with increases and some with reductions, on conversion.
Most teaching scales have been reduced, especially in senior and junior secondary schools.
The core principle in the Conversion process is that nobody should be worse off, and that employees now earning more than the new notches would retain their current status as a personal right.
In his Budget Speech, the Minister noted that the mainstreaming of Performance Management System in Central Government is expected to be completed during the course of this financial year. This will include performance contracts for Permanent Secretaries and Deputies, and Performance Based Reward System for the rest of the Public service during 2004.
It must alwsys be remembered that Public Sector reform encompasses issues of right-sizing. Government needs to handle this with care remembering that the development budget foresees extensive public works that must be implemented efficiently and without cost overruns.