Wed, Jan 12, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Civil servant salary hike proposal raises concern about debt

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Amid soaring government deficits, a proposal to hike civil servant pay is running into concerns from legislators over how the proposal would be funded, even as top government officials say that a raise is long overdue.

A 1 percent increase for each of the nation’s 800,000 civil servants and members of the armed forces would cost about NT$7.1 billion (US$243.3 million) annually. The Cabinet is currently mulling a proposal that could increase pay by about 3 percent, reports said.

Some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers say the step is unnecessary because the public sector is already leading the private sector in wages. Also, an 18 percent preferential savings account for retired civil servants was expanded last year.

“The amount of government debt is breaking new records,” DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said. “Talking about giving raises to civil servants, teachers and the military at this point is extremely improper.”

“There is a concern that the government is attempting to buy [public sector] votes through its policies, especially as we head into this year’s [legislative] elections,” Huang said.

The last time public sector wages were raised was six years ago, when then-president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration raised salaries by 3 percent. Since then, the nation’s economy has grown 15 percent and average wages about 11 percent.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said at forum yesterday that he had already reached a consensus with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on the matter, which has since been referred to the Cabinet for “careful” discussion.

Wu said the increase would be based on the country’s economic situation and tax revenue, while Chinese-language reports said it could be implemented in July.

The proposal, first tabled by Ma on Monday, is a sudden turnaround from an earlier announcement from the Central Personnel Administration that it would not consider raising wages this year because of the national debt.

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