The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has decided to restore salaries and allowances of civil servants to its levels before the pay cuts enforced in October.
A circular issued by the commission yesterday states that the cuts were made on the request of the president and the finance ministry, which informed CSC it did not have enough funds in the budget for employees’ remuneration.
“Since the finance minister had estimated in the state budget for 2010 submitted to the People’s Majlis that government revenue would exceed Rf7 billion (US$544 million) and because the commission does not believe reduction of civil servants’ salaries for three months could be prolonged as a measure due to the economic circumstances facing the country…the commission has decided that civil servants will receive the full salaries determined for their posts from 1 January 2010,” it announced.
It adds that government offices and departments have been informed of the decision.
Following negotiations with the finance ministry in September, the CSC imposed pay cuts under clause 43(c) of its regulations, which authorises the commission to alter salaries subject to a three-month review based on “special economic circumstances”.
When pay cuts of up to 20 per cent were enforced in October, the commission and the finance ministry agreed that the economic circumstances would be considered over when the government’s annual income increases beyond Rf7 billion.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Adam Zahir, a member of the executive committee of the Maldives Civil Servants’ Association, said parliament made amendments to include additional funds in the budget to restore salaries and the CSC has now said it will follow the budget.
Parliament passed the budget for 2010 with an additional Rf617.6 million (US$48 million) to restore the salaries.
“I believe we have now got 100 per cent guarantee that salaries will be restored,” he said. “But, with the way things have been going, we will believe it when it happens.”
MPs had informed the association that were enough funds in the original budget to pay the salaries, he continued, but now it has been confirmed “in a more certain and transparent way”.
Zahir said the association found it hard to accept the “special economic circumstances” because of the government’s actions and failure of either independent institutions, parliament or the judiciary to enforce similar pay cuts.
The administration continuing to make political appointees “showed that the money was there”.
Moreover, he said, both MPs and independent institutions have refused to accept the special circumstances and the government has not adequately proven that the situation warranted the austerity measures.
“So we don’t believe it because the people who would know these things best don’t believe it either,” he said.
In August, the government announced it would be introducing a raft of austerity measures, including reduction of overtime, cutting down the number of overseas trips and releasing government rented properties where possible, to alleviate an inherited budget deficit.
In addition to civil service wage cuts, the president said he planned to halve the 32,000-strong civil service by 2011.
Both decisions caused an angry backlash from opposition parties who petitioned the CSC to refuse the wage cuts, which they argued would adversely impact the lives of many citizens.
In his maiden speech at the 64th UN General Assembly on Thursday, President Mohamed Nasheed said the Maldives had “suffered badly” from the global economic recession.
“Moreover, since assuming office, it has become clear to us that in the run-up to last year’s election, the former government engaged in highly irresponsible economic policies in the hope of buying their way to victory,” he said.
Nasheed said government planned to tackle the economic crisis by reducing the civil service, privatising public utilities, and promoting private enterprise and trade.