A government official said Wednesday that civil servant salaries would continue to increase—perhaps substantially—if government tax revenues continue to rise.
Ngo Hongly, secretary general for the Council of Ministers’ Administration on Reform, also reiterated government claims that tax and non-tax revenues are up and said civil servants could in the future see significant wage hikes, like those enacted in a subdecree signed Aug 3 by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“If we get more income, we will do more,” he said.
Ngo Hongly said wage increases would cost the government about $12 million in 2005.
The subdecree increased monthly salaries for high-ranking officials by up to eight times from what they were in 2001 and almost doubled salaries for mid-level officials. However, salaries for the lowest-ranking and most poorly paid civil servants increased by only 13 percent to 67 percent, according to a copy of the Aug 3 subdecree and a similar 2001 subdecree.
A July 22 letter from Minister of Finance Keat Chhon to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh claims tax revenues increased 28 percent, from about $195 million in the first six months of 2004 to about $251 million in the first six months of 2005.
Officials from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank on Wednesday said the pay raises were good for Cambodia. The paltry wages of many civil servants has been cited by donors and observers as a major cause of corruption.
“Given the low level of pay for civil servants in Cambodia, an increase is certainly welcome,” said Shyam Bajpai, ADB country director. “We hope and expect that it will reduce corruption and also motivate people to work harder at their jobs and show up more often…. We hope that it is financially sustainable” he said.
Tim Conway, a poverty specialist at the World Bank’s Cambodia office, also said increased wages were good news.
“The Bank believes raising salaries is a very, very important part of public administration reform,” he said.
But he voiced some concern about raises being administered in an “across-the-board fashion.”
“It should be based on merit,” he said of the wage increases, and administered in a “transparent” manner.