Just 10 days after the ruling CPP saw significant losses at the polls, the Finance Ministry announced Wednesday that about 90,000 low-paid civil servants would be receiving a pay raise of at least 30 percent.
In a statement, the ministry said that civil servants who currently earn less than 244,400 riel per month, or about $60, would receive 320,000 riel, or about $78 starting next month.
Those civil servants currently on more than $60 per month would see their pay rise to at least 344,000 riel, or about $84, it said.
“The increase of basic salaries will benefit about 90,000 civil servants,” the statement said, adding that other new allowances for officials would also be considered.
Although a dramatic increase, the raises would only cost $1.62 million presuming the predicted 90,000 people get a raise of $18, a fraction of the total national budget—$3.1 billion this year.
“In the future, the fifth mandate government will try its utmost to increase the salary of civil servants and all types of armed forces,” the statement says.
Ngy Tayi, a secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, declined to comment on why the raises were being handed out now, so soon after the July 28 elections.
The CPP, by its own preliminary election results, won the ballot but ceded 22 National Assembly seats to the opposition CNRP. The opposition had included in its campaign platform a minimum 1 million riel, or about $250, monthly wage for civil servants, partly to eradicate the need for officials to bolster their earnings through corruption.
On Tuesday, CNRP vice president Kem Sokha told a crowd of supporters in Phnom Penh that research had found that more than 70 percent of members of the armed forces and civil servants, a group the CPP considers loyal supporters, had voted for the opposition, but did not provide evidence of the claim.
Kao Poeun, president of the Cambodian Independent Civil Servants Association, said the government’s decision to offer a new pay raise, which appears to be in addition to the annual raises of about 20 percent that the government has been giving civil servants for some time, was linked to the election result.
“After the increased votes for the CNRP, the current government is trying to please the civil servants,” said Mr. Poeun, whose association represents civil servants—who are not allowed to unionize.
“The CNRP has promised to offer $250 per month, which could be workable based on national revenues.”
Mr. Poeun said the new minimum of $78 per month—still lower than the $80 total remuneration guaranteed to garment workers—was still not enough to meet living costs amid rising fuel and food prices.
“This increase is not enough and it doesn’t respond to the demands of civil servants, who want a decent living,” he said.
“We need at least $170 per month to support a single person, and we need about $600 for a civil servant whose family has more than four people.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the raise was nothing unusual, but declined to comment further.
“That is what the government does every year,” he said.
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