EC requests finance ministry to reconsider pay cuts

The Elections Commission (EC) has sent a letter to the finance ministry in protest against pay cuts for their employees, arguing their salaries are already lower than staff in other independent institutions.

EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz Hassan told Minivan News that there was “widespread dissatisfaction” among staff at the commission.

“While a labourer in the Elections Commission would get Rf4,000 to 5,000 (US$300 to US$400) a month, someone in the same job at the Human Rights Commission would get Rf10,000 (US$800),” said Fayaz. “There’s a huge difference in salaries.”

He added that the interim EC had requested the finance ministry raise the salaries of their staff earlier this year.

In August, the government announced it planned to undertake a series of austerity measures to offset the yawning budget deficit, including pay cuts for civil servants of up to 20 per cent.

Fayaz said that while the pay cuts were reasonable in principle, the EC’s 52 employees were “unhappy” because “they know staff in other commissions get better pay than them.”

He said employees expressed this grievance at a meeting on the new commission’s first day in office but added he did not think any would leave their jobs given the country’s economic climate.

Speaking to MInivan News today, Ismail Shafeeq, permanent secretary at the finance ministry, said it was up to independent institutions to decide upon the salaries of their employees.

“We have nothing to do with that. We have no control over them,” he said, adding he did not think the EC would increase salaries considering the economic difficulties being faced by the country.

But, said Shafeeq, the finance ministry had informed all independent institutions of pay cuts between 10 and 20 per cent effective this
month for all civil servants, which would be up for review at the end of the month.

In October, Ahmed Assad, state minister of finance, said independent institutions were “making excuses” to avoid lowering salaries and
allowances of employees.

His remarks came after independent institutions argued they were not legally obliged to cut their employees’ salaries.