Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Just dessert

Somebody, likely not a civil servant, complained in the press about the generous bonuses that all civil servants will get at the end of this year - 2 months, to be exact. For those who are better performers, another 0.5 to 0.8-month payout is due in March next year - provided the civil servant remains employed as a civil servant. This question always comes up when tax payers wonder, quite reasonably, why their money must be given to people who may not have done anything spectacular except oil the established machinery. I used to be the questioner, but now that I am on 'this side' of the government, I try to convince myself that I have done enough to deserve this bit of taxpayers' money. One of these reasons must be that as a 'civil servant', I am underpaid, compared to my contemporaries in the commercial sector. However, the question is a valid one and guardians of the people's money should sit up and think.

Like the Singapore Air Force's now infamous act of destroying tonnes of perfectly edible vegetables last week. In the process of testing out some paints for its aerobatic displays, it released tiny spores of it into the air, tainting ready-to-harvest vegetables in a farm nearby. The farmers are asking for compensation - a reasonable demand - but who do you think will foot the bill? Well, its a no-brainer. The footer of the bill is you and I - the taxpayers. In this case, should the bonus quantum be reduced for the perpetrators of this careless act - assuming that full-time Air Force personnel enjoy the same bonus benefits of the civil servants? This would be the right thing to do, but will it in fact be done?

Unfortunately, I am not close enough to the higher echelons of the military to be able to influence nor answer that. Suffice to say that the complainant has a point.

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