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Global Fund backs reform

Global Fund backs reform

THE Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a prominent international health donor, says it is committed to working with the government on civil-service reform after a local health official said Monday that Global Fund associates in Cambodia were considering defying government pronouncements on pay schemes for civil servants.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Geneva-based organisation said it “fully supports” the government’s ongoing effort to restructure the compensation of government workers as part of what officials say is a broader push for public administration reform.

“All Global Fund-supported programmes in the country continue to adhere to government guidelines as this process unfolds,” the organisation said.

The guidelines to which the statement referred were first announced in December, when Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon said that effective on January 1, the government was cancelling salary supplement programmes for civil servants. Under such programmes, donors had been topping up salaries of government workers across a range of sectors in the hope of helping to retain skilled workers and promote a culture of meritocracy.

Keat Chhon said in January that the government planned to unveil a new compensation system by July of this year.

In a letter written earlier this month to his organisation’s country coordinating committee in Cambodia, Global Fund country programme director
William Patton said that three months into the government’s reform effort, fears that it would drive away civil servants have been realised.

“We understand that reform takes time; however, we also recognise that the incentive payments scheme terminated by the [government] last year was a significant motivator to staff providing care and treatment to HIV, TB and malaria patients,” Patton wrote. “The Global Fund is concerned that after three months of cessation of incentive payments, negative impacts on service delivery are being observed.”

Tia Phalla, vice chairman of the National Aids Authority, said earlier this week that on Friday, the Global Fund’s country coordinating committee – an advisory body to the fund’s management in Geneva – would consider whether to wait on compensation reforms or recommend reinstating salary supplements at pre-2010 levels, despite the government’s orders.

On Tuesday, however, the Global Fund’s Elmar Vinh-Thomas, regional team leader for East Asia and the Pacific, expressed support for the current schedule of reform. He said his organisation hoped to see the government’s plans implemented “smoothly and within the agreed timeline”.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Monday that under the new system, pre-determined salaries would replace incentive schemes.

“Each programme adds operating costs with [compensation], so no longer with a supplement to the salary,” he said.