Koga Says! Statement on Enactment of Five Administrative Reform-related Bills
26 May 2006
At today’s plenary session in the House of Councilors the ruling parties passed the Administrative Reform Promotion Bill by a majority despite objections from the opposition parties. All of the four remaining bills passed in the House, including the Public Service Reform Bill (Market Testing Bill), with the Democratic Party of Japan voting in favor of them. Owing to the cooperative efforts of the DPJ, the following points that RENGO demanded were appended as a supplementary resolution: maintaining and improving public services; issues of public service worker’s treatment which will likely result from the implementation of market testing (a competitive bidding procedure in which public and private entities compete for successful bids for public services); and public service system reform. However it is regrettable that such issues as how to guarantee the quality level of public services and the influences on people's lives and economy were not explicitly mentioned. Whether or not these laws will be substantial all depends on concrete future measures and we must continuously keep a strict eye on them.
Regarding the reform of gross public servant personnel costs, RENGO has made an appeal to the government to carry out reform from the basic standpoint of realizing "administration and public services that guarantee the security, safety, and trust of the people." However, deliberations did not clarify those points at all. Further, while it is commendable that the government has demonstrated a desire to "ensure employment through such other methods as personnel reallocation," they should come up with effective concrete measures to guarantee that this happens. RENGO’s standpoint is that we must never allow conditions that create job insecurity and lower the morale of civil servants. Again we strongly urge the government to formulate thoroughgoing measures.
RENGO has been demanding the following points regarding the Market Testing Bill, but none have been systemically ensured: "Ensure and stably provide effective, high quality public service"; "User control over the quality and form of public services"; "Employment/labor conditions that those in charge of public services – either public or private – could feel equally proud of." Based on the "negative aspects" that result from relaxed regulations as well as the lessons learned from other advanced nations, the government should implement necessary measures such as strengthening the function of the soon to be established committee to oversee bidding.
On the issue of drastic public servant system reform, it is commendable that the government has decided through government-labor discussions to embark on the creation of a "consultation table" to discuss basic labor rights. Hereafter, it is necessary to integrally examine effective, high quality civil/public services that appropriately respond to the changing social needs of the 21st century as well as the state of the civil servants who are engaged in that work, and radically reform problems in the current public servant system/labor-management relations in public services. In particular, the government should take seriously the recommendations that the ILO has made three times already and establish basic labor rights that meet international labor standards.
Those laws related to the promotion of administration reform are meant to keep reform on schedule and the content of substantive reform will be left to future discussions. Tax payers and citizens want dependable public services provided by a trustworthy administration. We must never allow [the government] to facilely pass heavier burdens onto the people while downsizing and cutting back public services all in the name of "reform." Through real reform that will lead to maintaining and improving the daily lives of our people, RENGO will continue across its entire organization to strive for the realization of an "effective and efficient government" that is fair and transparent and can respond appropriately and promptly to the needs of its citizens.