A new subdecree laying out a salary structure for councilors and council chiefs at the provincial, district, municipal and city levels has come under criticism by the opposition SRP, which says the new rules discriminate against councilors who are not members of the ruling party.
Under the subdecree, which was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Dec 14, provincial and municipal councilors will be paid 800,000 riel per month (about $191), and district and city councilors will be paid 500,000 riel (about $120). Council chiefs at all levels will earn an extra 200,000 riel (about $48).
All council members who are also currently civil servants will also be paid their “basic salary,” as well as a family allowance. However, civil servants are more likely to be drawn from the ranks of the ruling party, and will therefore more earn more than councilors who are not civil servants, the SRP said.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that the pay policy amounted to “political discrimination”
“Because we are council members, we have the same role and the same duty to serve the people,” Mr Sovann said. “The government should treat every councilor equally. It’s really the political discrimination against the SRP, because SRP members who are councilors, mostly they are merely elected officials,” he said.
The government denied these accusations yesterday, saying the SRP was only trying to gain political capital by complaining.
“There is no discrimination as the SRP has said,” Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said. “This is a subdecree that provides every salary to every council member. In fact, the subdecree is not favoring any party.”
The new subdecree also stipulates that the new salary rules will be applied retroactively from July 2009, when the councilors were sworn in to their new positions. They have not been paid since then, but are scheduled to receive six months’ worth of back salary this month.
Ha Nem, chief of the Lumphat district council in Ratanakkiri province, said yesterday he was looking forward to finally getting paid.
“I haven’t received a salary since I was sworn in last year, but I was told that I will be paid this month,” he said. “I am happy I will get paid.”