Senior officials at the Council of Ministers, including secretaries and undersecretaries of state, said this week that their monthly wages have been withheld since June as part of a ministry-wide effort to end the practice of overpaying individual employees who hold multiple titles in the government.
Explaining the months-long delay, Council of Minister spokesman and Secretary of State Phay Siphan said Tuesday that the cabinet is in the process of reforming its payroll to ensure that each government employee is only paid once for their work.
“There are some delays for this month’s wages as a result of salary reform because some officials hold two positions and it is necessary to cut out one, such as the position of adviser,” Mr Siphan said.
“Samdech [Prime Minister Hun Sen] asked for the deductions about one or two months ago,” he said.
Mr Siphan declined to discuss whether or not he himself had not been paid his wages.
Ten secretaries and undersecretaries of state contacted this week, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution for speaking to the media, said that they have not received their salaries for the past three months. Salaries are usually paid on the 15th of every month, according to those officials.
Boun Lim Heng, undersecretary of state in charge of the Council of Ministers’ finances, said secretaries of state or those holding positions of an equal rank are paid 1.75 million riel, or $422, per month, and that those in positions of undersecretary of state earn a monthly salary of 1.3 million riel, or $316.
This adjustment of salaries began in June when Prime Minister Hun Sen and Finance Minister Keat Chhon decided to review the payroll of all senior government officials holding multiple positions, Mr Lim Heng said.
It is common for government officials to hold several titles, such as “personal adviser,” or a military or police rank, alongside their more formal jobs such as undersecretary or secretary of state.
“They all must be reviewed and if anyone has received double salaries from two or three separate institutions, they must return back their salaries,” Mr Lim Heng said, adding that “not many” officials at the Council of Ministers had been asked to return their salaries.
Mr Lim Heng said that he believed that, throughout the government, between 30 and 40 officials have so far been ordered to do just that. He added that the re-evalution process should be completed soon and back pay should be available next month.