Subject: East Timor bureaucracy to be slashed by more than half

East Timor bureaucracy to be slashed by more than half

DILI, East Timor, Dec 29 (AFP) - The UN administration in East Timor said on Wednesday it would need fewer than half the number of civil servants employed during Indonesian rule.

The expected reduction from about 28,000 civil servants to just over 12,000 is based on "greater efficiency, greater competence, giving priority to quality rather than quantity," said Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

"It would reduce -- in fact eliminate -- corruption altogether and focusing on competence and integrity," de Mello said at the conclusion of the second meeting of the National Consultative Council, a type of cabinet for the UN-administered territory.

De Mello, who chairs the council, said about 7,000 civil servants are expected to be recruited during the first year.

The council formed a special commission to recommend a structure for the new bureaucracy and approximate staffing levels in each department, de Mello said.

The commission, to report at the council's next meeting on January 13-14, will also recommend salary scales.

De Mello said a National Civil Service Commission would then be struck to implement the guidelines and start recruiting. He emphasized that the commission "would be independent."

"We wish that implementation to be carried out without any pressure from any political party or any nepotism whatsoever," he said.

Former employees of the Indonesian government would not be guaranteed jobs but they would be free to apply, de Mello said.

Discussions will be held with Indonesia about the possible payment of pensions to the former civil servants who are not re-hired, he said.

He added that unsuccessful applicants will be eligible for re-training projects to help them rejoin productive life.

"This is mainly aimed at encouraging those who might still be hesitating in camps in West Timor whether to come home, whether to be part of the new civil service," de Mello said.

Aid agencies said tens of thousands of East Timorese were still living in refugee camps across the border in Indonesian West Timor.

The UN and other agencies have accused Indonesian armed forces of directing a massive campaign to force out East Timor's population after the August 30 ballot in which voters opted for independence from Indonesia, which invaded the territory in 1975.

The National Consultative Council, which de Mello chairs, has 13 members including Xanana Gusmao, president of the pro-independence National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT).

The CNRT has six other seats on the council. UNTAET is represented by three officials as well as de Mello. One seat is held by a Catholic priest and another by a former supporter of autonomy with Indonesia.

The council attempts to reach decisions by consensus.

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