In part two of our comparisons between salaries of political appointees and civil servants, Minivan News examines the pay cuts initiated last year, parliament and the government’s promotion of state-owned companies.
The figures reported by Minivan News yesterday represented the fixed salaries of both political appointees and civil servants. The pay cuts made to salaries last October meant a 20 percent reduction for political appointees and a 15 percent reduction to civil servants’ salaries.
Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuahir, said starting on 13 May 2010, civil servants and political appointees will get a 7 percent reimbursement from the government, which will go into a pension fund.
“Meaning those who had a 15 percent reduction will now only have an 8 percent reduction,” Zuhair noted.
Most members of the civil service are in the middle management services, who earn anywhere from Rf 7,680 to Rf 10,106 after the pay cuts. This rank includes directors, senior technical officers and deputy and assistant directors.
The wages of Permanent Secretaries have also been queried, as they are civil servants working for political appointees. They are not in the regular structure but are linked to deputy ministers.
Their fixed salaries were originally of Rf 20,500 plus Rf 15,000 for allowances. After the 20 percent pay cut which started in October 2009, they now earn a total of Rf 28,400 a month. This makes permanent secretaries the highest paid members of the civil service, followed by professors who now earn Rf 20,280 after the pay cuts.
Civil servants and political appointees
The figures obtained by Minivan News show the highest number of political appointees are island councillors, with 168 across the country. After the pay cuts, they are making Rf 9,600. In total, the government is spending Rf 1,612,800 per month on island councillor’s salaries alone.
The figures also show that 35 state ministers and 55 deputy ministers are currently working for the government. State ministers are currently being paid Rf 37,600 a month, while deputy ministers get Rf 28,400 per month, after the 20 percent salary reductions.
Together, the wages for state and deputy ministers add up to Rf 2,878,000 per month.
Despite Parliament’s decision to pass the decentralisation bill without the provinces act, and the government’s promise to reduce political appointees, former Utility Development Director at the President’s Office, Ahmed Nasheed, was appointed Deputy Minister of State for the South-Central Province yesterday.
His wages bring the figure up to Rf 2,906,400 each month.
Another point of contention has been the creation of government-owned companies which have been transferred from the civil service, such as the Malé Health Services Corporation.
Those who are critical of the salary cuts for civil servants have argued the government is still technically paying the wages of those working in these companies, which means government expenditure on wages has not reduced.
Zuhair said the creation of these companies was not only to reduce the civil service, but “it is also a more practical model.”
He said these companies are “self-sufficient and depend on earnings as a commercially viable business,” and are now relying more on Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) than on government subsidies.
Zuhair noted although many state-owned companies such as STELCO were receiving government subsidies in the past, new policies mean they will not be subsidised any more. “MNBC salaries were given out based on revenue,” he added.
MPs are currently earning Rf 62,500 a month, and are among the few sectors paid by the state who did not take a pay cut last year.
Parliamentary sittings take place three days a week, and there are three Parliament sessions a year. The sessions are held for three months and are followed by a one-month break.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Hoarafushi, Ahmed Rasheed, said he would not support a reduction to MPs’ salary cuts because he is always helping his constituents by giving them money of his salary. “I am not using a single rufiyah from my salary,” he said. “Last month, I spent Rf 134,600 for my island’s people. When you look at it like that, 62,500 is not much.”
Rasheed said this money was used mostly for medical purposes, including bills from IGMH and even air fares to Sri Lanka for medical treatment.
He said people from his island “are very poor, and right now they don’t know what to do.”
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP for Galolhu South, Ahmed Mahlouf, said if the economic situation was really that bad, “then yes, of course we would agree with lowering our salaries.” But, he said, “DRP and other opposition MPs don’t believe that the salary of any servant should be reduced.”
He said “Maldives is not going through such a bad economic stage,” adding that “even during the tsunami salaries weren’t reduced.”
Mahlouf said no one’s salaries should have been reduced, and “if we agreed to reduce it, it would mean we agree with the economic situation being that bad. That is why we are fighting for their rights.”