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Automatic annual pay rise lacks justification

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THE government is reportedly going to introduce an automatic annual pay rise for civil servants to keep pace with inflation instead of increasing salaries through the Pay Commissions. The disclosure came from Finance Minister AMA Muhith after a meeting at the Secretariat on Sunday adding that the new system would be put in place now and implemented by the next government .

Muhith's announcement came in the backdrop of his comment prior to implementing the last pay scale when he had said no Pay Commission would be formed in the future. Instead an automatic system of pay rise would be put in place to take care of the inflation factor.

But question arises when the people outside the government's pay scale are not having anybody to listen to their plight and offer financial compensation against inflation and high cost of living, how they would make their living with widening income inequality with private sector employees and among common people. Many believe it is a politically focused proposition for which people will have to bear the brunt.   

The Finance Minister said a nine-member committee will comprise representatives of Ministries, including the Ministries of Finance, Commerce, Planning, and Establishment, as well as Bangladesh Bank and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General to look into the matter. The government increased the basic salary of civil servants in July 2015 and made effective the allowance in July last year.

It is essential that public servants need to be paid proper salaries so that only the best and most efficient people enter the public service. But it is also true that high levels of inefficiency exist in our public sector - a situation which needs to be redressed. Simply increasing the levels of their incomes is unlikely to lead to a better and more efficient administration. What is sorely needed is the attitude that public servants remain servants of the public, and act as such, instead of having a colonial mentality.

Simply increasing salaries will burden our already overburdened tax-payers who are already struggling to cope with high levels of inflation. Public funds come from private citizens, it must be remembered, and it is highly unfair that the incomes of public servants, which come from the citizens taxes, should increase in line with inflation. If the general public don't see any real increases in their income, such situation can only be onerous for the vast majority of our citizens who will in all probability see no real increase in the efficiency of public service but will shoulder an ever increasing burden. They have to pay to get any real work done.

It would be far better for the government to institute a system whereby only those public sector employees, who shows a tangible gain in efficiency and delivery, can get higher salary. Indiscriminate increase in salary to keep place with inflation will lower the amount of public funds available for other vital sectors like healthcare and infrastructure development. New pay rise cannot be good for the economy.

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