The government says it wants to send a Bill to Parliament to review the retirement age of academics and medical specialists in public universities and hospitals, respectively.
The Bill, which is going to amend the Public Service Act, is expected to be tabled in the next Parliament sitting and will change the voluntary retirement age from 55 to 60 years and the compulsory retirement age from 60 to 65.
The aim, Attorney General George Masaju says, is to address the shortage of that cadre of staff.
We commend the government for the move, but we wish to remind the government that staff shortage is not only in higher learning institutions and referral hospitals. Rural dwellers are the silent victims of civil servant shortage in almost all sectors.
We, therefore, advise the government to consider extending the retirement age bracket to civil servants in the lower cadres, especially in those areas where there are acute shortages.
Despite increased enrolment in teachers’ training colleges, for example, there is still shortage of science teachers in rural schools. The problem is aggravated by the fact that the majority of the newly recruited are reluctant to go to rural areas. Public medical facilities located in rural areas also face serious shortage of staff.
We are aware of the budgetary constraints that the ballooning wage bill might bring if this proposal is adopted. But the exigencies of improving health and education services in rural areas makes this imperative.
It could be done as a pilot project. And the best way of doing this is to let the voluntary retirement age remain 55 and extend the compulsory retirement age from 60 to 65.
It will also take care of the fact that life expectancy in Tanzania has improved as well as help idle civil servants who like to remain busy after retirement.