A month after a call for civil servants to strike for higher pay, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered government ministries to ensure that staff are paid on time, and said that otherwise workers could air their grievances in the press.
The prime minister’s remarks, which came at a ceremony for graduating public administration students at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, follow a written directive on January 29 saying that civil servants need to be paid by the fourth week of every month.
“We want them to be paid their salaries on time,” he told the students, many of whom are future civil servants. “Even though it is a small salary, when it is paid on time, it’s a good thing. When payment is not on time, it’s a problem.”
Mr. Hun Sen added that making payments on time should not be difficult, particularly because “ministers just need to sign a document” to ensure that salaries are paid.
“This is part of the reforms related to the living standards of civil servants,” he said. “Civil servants from all ministries—if you see that there are problems getting your salaries, announce through the newspaper that the minister of your ministry has his full salary, but doesn’t offer you yours.”
As part of the new reforms, the Ministry of Finance in November signed agreements with Canadia Bank, Acleda Bank, and Wing Cambodia to set up bank accounts through which civil servants would be paid.
On Monday, Mr. Hun Sen said this method would help prevent “ghosts” from coming to claim salaries that do not belong to them—just one of the corruption problems that plagues the public sector.
Last month, the Cambodian Independent Civil Servants Association said recent inflation has lowered the purchasing power of civil servants’ salaries and said civil servants should peacefully strike for a minimum monthly wage of $250.
Mr. Hun Sen said Monday that salary hikes could only coincide with economic growth.