PETALING JAYA: A former senior government officer has urged the government to implement a voluntary separation scheme to downsize the bloated civil service, or risk facing a financial crisis that could force employees to be retrenched without justice in the future. Former Finance Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim (pix) said a rightsizing programme of the civil service was much needed in a time where automation has replaced human labour, leading to redundant civil servants. He said the government, among other things, should look at closing down either completely or partially, certain offices and branches, with redundant civil servants and redeploy or retrain them in preparation for the separation scheme. "If it takes some years for the government to recover the heavy expenditure of the separation scheme, it is still worth it. We can hope that with a smaller civil service, the economy as a whole will become more efficient," he said in a statement today. Mohd Sheriff, who is also a member of civil society group G25, said redundant employees could be retrained by giving free courses on skills development, such as basic accounting and corporate law, to make them employable in the private sector. He also suggested that one half of a married couple who both work in government service be given a separation package offer of RM40,000 for their 20 years of service, which can be used to fund part time businesses. "Chances are one of them will accept the offer, while the other would continue working as a civil servant until retirement to qualify for medical benefits for the whole family," he said. Congress of Unions in Public and Civil Services Malaysia (Cuepacs) had recently debunked claims that the country's civil service was bloated, explaining that it included the armed forces, police, education and health personnel, unlike other developed countries. Malaysia currently has a ratio of one civil servant for every 19.37 people in the country, about 1.6 million people in total.