CSC defends restoration of civil servants’ salaries

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has defended its decision to restore civil servants’ salaries and allowances in January to their former levels.

At a press conference today, Abdul Muhsin, vice-president of the commission, said the condition for restoring salaries to pre-October levels was the government’s revenue exceeding Rf7 billion (US$545 million) as it was the main indicator to determine whether the “special economic circumstances” that made the pay cuts necessary had passed.

Muhsin said a statement on the budget published on the finance ministry website stated that income for government offices alone would exceed Rf7 billion.

In the discussions with the finance ministry before the pay cuts were enforced in October, he added, it was agreed that salaries would be restored “automatically” when revenue reached Rf7 billion.

Moreover, the CSC regulations state that changes to salaries must be reviewed every three months.

The finance ministry “has been told” of the decision to restore salaries, he said.

In August, the government introduced a raft of austerity measures, including pay cuts for political employees, reduction of overtime and cutting back on travel, to alleviate the inherited budget deficit.

Last month, the parliamentary committee selected to review the budget made a recommendation to inject Rf617 million to restore civil servants’ salaries.

Muhsin said the commission received a letter from parliament informing them that salaries had to be restored if CSC believed the economic circumstances had passed.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Ahmed Assad, state minister for finance, said the commission did not consult either with the ministry or the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) before making its decision.

“Our indicators don’t show that the economic circumstances have passed,” he said.

Assad said the ministry would “respect the decision of parliament” on the issue of restoring salaries.

Muhsin said all expenditure from the budget was made under the assumption that the projected revenue would materialise. “So the commission’s thinking is why should civil servants’ salaries not be restored from the first day assuming that the income will be received.”

Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, spokesperson for the commission, said the changes were valid for a three-month period and would automatically be restored in January.

“The finance ministry has not discussed with us to maintain the reduction,” he said, adding the restoration was not a decision made by the commission so much as an automatic reversal.

Asked whether the commission believed the “special economic circumstances” had passed, Muhsin said it was beyond the CSCs “area of competence”.

But, he added, statements on the finance ministry’s website and fiscal indicators were publicly available.

The commission only looked to see whether government revenue reached Rf7 billion, he said.

Fahmy said he believed the finance ministry would respect the law and issue funds to restore salaries to their former levels.