Tougher terms for errant civil servants

Civil servants are to face a stricter disciplinary process as part of the changes to the public sector being introduced by the government, Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas said on Wednesday.

Reppas said that the changes aim to ensure that bureaucrats, who often benefit from lenient disciplinary measures, are adequately dealt with if they commit offenses.

?The vast majority of civil servants have no reason to want to operate in a state of impunity,? said Reppas, who is seeking to make changes to a disciplinary code that was enshrined in law 60 years ago.

?The civil servants that are efficient and trustworthy should want to be at the forefront of ensuring that evaluation procedures are put in place.?

Under the government?s proposals, preliminary investigations into suspected wrongdoings will have to be completed within a month and the internal probe will have to be wrapped up within two.

The length of time for which civil servants can be suspended are being extended.

The two-year suspension is being extended to five, the five- or seven-year term will stretch to 10.

Civil servants suspected of committing serious offenses, such as accepting bribes or abusing their authority will be immediately suspended and have their pay reduced pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Significantly, the government is also seeking to bar unionists from sitting on disciplinary committees, which will be made up of three judicial officials and two heads of department.