Civil Servants Could See Significant Wage Hikes

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.


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