The civil service commission (CSC) has sent a letter to parliament requesting civil servants’ wages be restored to their former levels as the proposed mid-term 2010 budget anticipates a revenue of more than Rf7 billion (US$544 million).
CSC Spokesperson Mohamed Fahmy Hassan said a similar letter was also sent to President Mohamed Nasheed, reminding him of his remarks in October.
In his weekly radio address, Nasheed said civil servants’ pay cuts were a temporary measure and would be restored once the economy recovered and the government had increased its revenue beyond Rf7billion (US$544 million).
“The president’s message was very clear. In this case where so many are involved and it’s a promise that he made…I am very sure that in January they will be given their full salaries,” said Fahmy.
Ismail Shafeeq, permanent secretary of the finance ministry, said that according to the law, the finance ministry has to review the pay cuts every three months with the next evaluation coming at the end of the month.
Addressing MPs last week, Finance Minister Ali Hashim said the projected revenue for 2010 was Rf7.3 million (US$568 million).
Measures to increase government revenue, including the introduction of new taxes such as corporate tax and a goods and services tax to be imposed on tourist resorts, are still awaiting the passage of legislation in parliament.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Mohamed Zuhair, president’s office press secretary, said civil servants’ salaries would only be restored
when the government’s revenue “physically” reached Rf7 billion (US$544 million).
“If we reach it by September then September we will do it,” said Zuhair.
Acknowledging that the government may not reach its expected revenue, Fahmy said civil servants’ salaries should only be reduced if the government fails to attain its target.
In August, the government unveiled a raft of austerity package to help ease the budget deficit. Measures included pay cuts of up to 20 per cent for civil servants, a reduction in overtime as well as cutback on foreign travel.
The pay cuts have sparked outcry and several protests among civil servants and opposition groups who have accused the government of economic mismanagement.
“We will hold another demonstration on 10 December outside the finance ministry to back up the commission,” said Abdullah Mohamed, spokesperson for the civil servants’ association.
“We believe this damage was done to civil servants as a punishment and if there really were special economic circumstances, members of parliament and independent institutions too should have taken a pay cut,” he added.
Last month, an informal meeting of MPs on pay cuts ended in a heated argument after opposing parties accused each other’s government of mishandling the finances. All MPs Minivan News spoke to said they would be willing to take a salary reduction.
Pay cuts for independent institutions came into effect this month.
In their letter, the commission also noted that civil servants asked to work overtime should be paid accordingly.
“If and where and when they are asked to do overtime, they are entitled to be paid overtime under the employment law,” said Fahmy.
He added that the CSC had received “lots of complaints” from civil servants who had been asked to work overtime but had not been paid.
“The work should be organised in such a way so that nobody should do overtime. In very specific cases where it’s needed to complete a
crucial task then that person has to be paid,” he said.
Zuhair said the government’s policy was that overtime should not exceed 15 per cent of the total hours worked and that all staff
working overtime should be paid.
If this was not the case, he continued, civil servants “should just refuse to work overtime.”