By JEFFREY ELAPA
MORE than 7,000 civil servants will be affected immediately by the reversion of the retirement age from 65 to 60, in compliance with a recent Supreme Court decision.
The court on March 28 had nullified the 2014 Public Service Management Act which, among other things, raised the retirement age from 60 to 65. A panel comprising Justice Les Gavara-Nanu and Justice Ellenas Batari found that the constitutional amendment law passed in Parliament in 2014 was “unconstitutional” and “invalid”.
According to outgoing Public Service Minister Elias Kapavore, the ruling means everything now reverts to the 1995 Public Service Management Act which had set the retirement age at 60.
He said most of the affected civil servants were from the Health Department, most of them “skilled staff”.
They will now have to retire at 60.
Kapavore, who is moving across to the Health Department as its new minister, revealed this while handing over the public service department to his successor Wesley Nukundj in Port Moresby yesterday.
“We are now going back to the 1995 Public Service Management Act, which requires the age limit to be 60,” he said.
“That means more than 7000 public servants are now ready to be retrenched.
“They must now retire as required by the Act.”
He said the Department of Justice and Attorney-General was aware of the matter.
Meanwhile, he also called on all public servants to stay out of the political tussle in Waigani.
“I urge public servants to remain committed to their core functions and responsibilities to serve the people. (Politicians) will come and go but you must continue to be loyal and committed to your work,” he said.
In 2014, Parliament made amendments to the constitution including the removal of the Public Service Commission’s powers and functions.
Parliament repealed the Public Services Management Act 1995 and enacted the Public Services Management Act 2014.
Cabinet appointed a Ministerial Executive Appointment Committee comprising five ministers with the Minister for Public Service as chairman to appoint, suspend or terminate senior public servants, a power initially vested with the public service commission.
Chairman of the public service commission Dr Philip Kereme filed a Supreme Court application in 2015 on the matter.
On March 28 this year, the Supreme Court found that the amendments to the constitution passed by Parliament in 2014 were “unconstitutional” and “invalid”.
By JEFFREY ELAPA