President of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Mohamed Latheef has said that the commission does not support strikes on principle “as civil servants are working for the benefit of the people, and [striking] is harmful for the people.”
However he said that those civil servants who were striking over the salary issue were using a right accorded them under the law.
He also said civil servants had a right to their full salary this month, and that it was “unfair” of the government to restore only some salaries (at the independent commissions).
Latheef said that all government employees, including independent commissions, “must face the difficulties due to the country’s economic condition.”
“The CSC believes that this is a national issue and it can be solved by speaking. Going to the court is not our first option, we wish this to be solved by talks,” he said.
Press secretary for the president’s office Mohamed Zuhair said it was not the government who decided the salaries of independent commissions, and that “rather it was decided by the parliament and the government does not have any power over it.”
Civil servants salaries accounted for 70 per cent of government’s expenditure, he said, while the independent commissions accounted for only five per cent.
He added that while the CSC might not believe that legal action could be taken against the striking civil servants, “that is not how the government feels about this.”
He said the government would restore the salaries of civil servants when its income reaches Rf7 billion, and the fact that parliament approved a budget of Rf7 billion “does not mean that we have it on our hands now,” he explained.
Spokesman for the Finance Ministry Ismail Shafeeq said that the government would provide civil servants “what we can.”
“Everyone knows the country’s economic condition,” he said.
Shafeeq said that he believes everyone, including civil servants and independent commissions, “must endure the special economic conditions of the country.”
“The finance ministry will be deciding whether or not to change their decision,” he added.
MDP MP Ahmed Easa said he believed civil servants and the independent commissions should both be receiving the lowered salary.
“When salaries are increased the country’s inflation rate gets high,” he said, “and when the inflation rate rises prices rise as well.’
Easa said “the best solution” was for the government to keep the 15 per cent salary money “and cut the import duty for food.”