Today’s Editorial for March 11: Scalpel or axe?

Although we wholeheartedly support
the reduction of government expenditure, including through cuts in civil servants’
pay and benefits, we believe that sacrifice must come from all areas of the
government budget.

We’re not sure what the rationale
is for excluding civil servants making less than $3,000 per month from having
to contribute anything to an expenditure reduction, while all of those making
more than that are faced with what could amount to a 25 cut in take-home
pay.  To penalise the only most capable
employees – which is assumedly why they make more money – precisely for being
more capable does not make much sense.

We therefore believe a better
business model for the government would be to require pension and health
insurance contributions by all employees, as is the case through most of the
private sector and in many public sectors elsewhere. This one change, effected
permanently, could help the government’s business model become more sustainable
in the long run.

If government still must cut
salaries to get through this crisis, then let them do it through the entire
public service, but at a much lower rate.

More importantly, we think the best
way of dealing with reducing the government’s budget is to do so selectively by
looking at what services are really needed, and which organisations really need
funding.

It wouldn’t be wise to make cuts to
the police budget or to education budget right now, but there are probably
other places of less critical need were substantial cuts could be made and very
few residents would feel the effects.

There are also millions of dollars
of funding to various organisations that, while worthy to support in good
times, can probably get by on their own for a while – or at last with far less
subsidy from government. 

By using a scalpel instead of an
axe to selectively carve out less critical services and funding, the government
could make cuts without saddling the best of the public sector with an
inequitable burden.

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