A government panel on administrative reform agreed Oct. 22 that government employees transferred to newly created quasigovernmental organizations should be allowed to keep their status as civil servants for the time being.About 15 members of the Administrative Reform Council, headed by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, expressed support for the proposal, saying it would be difficult to deprive government employees of their status immediately after being transferred to “independent agencies” that are to be modeled after Britain’s executive agency system. None expressed apparent opposition to the plan proposed by the panel’s secretariat.The council has agreed to establish a number of such agencies to take over nonpolicy-related government tasks as part of efforts to downsize the government. But it remains to be seen whether the new agency system will lead to streamlining the government if bureaucrats maintain their status even after transferring to the new entities.The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is expected to demand that workers at the new agencies be civil servants, because the party is considering delegating the tasks of the three controversial services of the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry to the agencies. The idea emerged as a compromise after the LDP, backed by organizations related to the posts ministry, expressed opposition to the council’s recommendation that two of the three services be privatized.

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