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Salary rise for civil servants despite need to save funds

Sun Mesa / Khmer Times Share:
Civil servants attend a meeting. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The government will still increase the salaries of civil servants, military and police personnel and retired people next year even though it needs to save funds to fight COVID-19.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday slashed government spending by at least 25 percent to save money amid coronavirus fears.

The Finance Ministry on Sunday reported the government had accumulated approximately $400 million in savings to be used to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingdom and had already disbursed  $30 million.

“The money is for a long term fight against COVID-19,” ministry spokesman Meas Sok Sensan said.

Civil Service Ministry spokesman Yuk Bunna said at a press conference yesterday the government will not slash funds meant for civil servants in order to come up with money for tackling the virus.

“The government already decided to increase the salaries for next year even though we need to save money,” he said.

“The increase is about $20 for civil servants next year,” he added. “It is for all officials working in the government including army and police personnel.”

Mr Bunna said the government will increase salaries next month by around $7.5 for all civil servants in addition to a previous raise of $12.5 in January.

He added the government will also give them a bonus of about $12.5 for Khmer New Year next month.

“Even though we face difficulty, we always encourage civil servants to be effective,” Mr Bunna said.

He said even though a raise of about $20 is not much, the government has reduced the price of electricity, provided free hospitalisation and decreased inflation to improve the lives of civil servants.

Mr Bunna added the government needs to increase the salaries of civil servants in line with economic growth.

“This increase aims to encourage all civil servants to work diligently,” he added.

The government is also trying to streamline the wages of officials working at all ministries and reduce the wage gap between higher and lower level staff.

In October last year, Mr Hun Sen announced at the Peace Palace the minimum wage for civil servants will be increased from $275 to $293 and from $300 to $318 for teachers and doctors this year.

The government will also increase the minimum monthly wage from $296 to $314 for National Police officers holding the ranks of staff sergeant, from $264 to $295 for military police officers who are first sergeants and contractual officers will be paid $167.

Mr Bunna said the government aims to increase the minimum salary for civil servants up to $350 in 2023.

In 2019, there were 218,482 civil servant throughout the country.

Mr Bunna claimed the government saved about $1.7 million from ghost civil servants last year and about $1.5 million from such non-existent officials in 2018.

A Ministry of Land Management official, who declined to be named, said yesterday he is happy the government is increasing salaries even during hard times.

“Our government faces difficulties but it manages to increase the salary for civil servants so I am happy about it,” he said. “Salaries have been increased three times already over the past five years. “I started off by earning about $150 five years ago but now I earn more than $350.

Uk Chhayavy, Cambodian Independent Teachers Association director, said yesterday the salary increase will not help to improve the lives of civil servants because inflation is high.

“We are not happy with it because the cost of living keeps going up,” she said.  “We get an increase of $5 but prices rise beyond $5, so how can we improve our lives.”

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