Pay Rise For Civil Servants Unlikely For Now Say Economists


 
Cuepacs recently threatened to picket if the salaries of civil servants were not increased. (Bernama pic)PETALING JAYA: Although government servants deserve higher salaries, the size of the national debt and the level of corruption and financial mismanagement means Putrajaya will find it difficult to agree, say two economists.
Nazari Ismail of Universiti Malaysia (UM) said those in the civil service, especially lower-level staff, deserve an increase because of higher living costs.
“However, the government has a considerable debt burden at the moment,” he told FMT, referring to the national debt which stood at RM1.045 trillion as of June.
“Any pay increase will add to the government’s debt problem.”
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Nazari Ismail.The total number of people who are employed by the government, including the armed forces, police, teachers, and local council workers, comes to about 1.2 million.
Nazari said the 1MDB affair, dubbed one of the world’s biggest corruption scandals, had also added to Putrajaya’s debt with RM32.08 billion in outstanding debt commitments.
“If the government can reduce leakages and wasteful spending, it will be able to afford to pay civil servants decent salaries to cope with the rising cost of living.”
Former top civil servant Ramon Navaratnam agreed that leakages had reduced the government’s coffers, making it difficult for salaries to be increased.
Ramon Navaratnam.The former treasury deputy secretary-general suggested that Putrajaya and Cuepacs, the civil service union federation, discuss how to reasonably increase wages, saying that the government needed to “exercise empathy” as civil servants were struggling with the increasing cost of living.
Both sides should understand that the scope for salary adjustments was limited, or else it could “undermine the economy and the national budget,” he said.
Navaratnam said Cuepacs should also urge civil servants to increase their productivity to match any salary increase, as practised in the private sector.
However, he added, Putrajaya could not afford to ignore the demands by Cuepacs, otherwise the body could make it “difficult” for the current administration, referring to a threat of pickets if salaries were not raised. - FMT


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