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19th-Dec-2014

Loyalty money without concern for peoples' hardship

By Editorial Desk

The Pay and Service Commission is going to recommend a basic salary hike up to 147 percent for 1.3 million government job holders. The Commission might submit its report in any day with recommendations for pay hikes and possibly various allowances and benefits, which is set to be implemented from the next fiscal or earlier. Pay hikes are very acceptable to the employees but when the charm of a few hikes subsequently coils into a high inflation rate and imposes extra-taxation on the taxpayers during a volatile macroeconomic condition it worries everyone. To fill the thrust of the extra-revenue for paying the raised salaries to the public servants, the government has to put extra burden of tax, levy, and VAT on the ordinary people, who are already hard heated by the timid economy and all-pervasive corruption.
The people wish to get an efficient government which must ensure corruption-free governance, business-friendly environment, optimum supply of power and gas, and an investment friendly atmosphere to materialize their dream and destiny. Certainly, the government agencies across the country are the most corrupt sector out of all the services. Our sheer question to the government is that why should people pay extra tax while they pay bribe or speed-money to the government officials? Will the salary hike erase the all pervasive corruption?
While new investment has narrowed, exports continue to stutter, FDI inflows have dramatically fallen down, the trade-gap is widening, the civil service recruitment is being dominated by an irrational 56 percent quota, and political recruitment and recruitment by bribery are trendy, the recommended salary for the government employees will surely collapse the existing volatile economy.
Newspaper reports said the Commission is likely to recommend 77 percent to 147 percent salary hike for the public servants. The highest basic salary will be around Tk 80,000 per month, which is Tk 40,000 now, while the lowest scale might be increased to Tk 10,100 from the existing Tk 4,100. Some of the existing 20 grades might be merged to make 15 grades, most likely the ones between 10 and 20. Recommendations would be made for providing public servants with various benefits and allowances like life, health, and accident insurances and education allowance for children of the government service holders. Earlier, the government formed a 17-member Eighth Pay and Service Commission headed by former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr. Mohammad Farashuddin, also a retired bureaucrat.
A member of the Commission said the existing poor salary structure failed to attract meritorious jobseekers and resulted in deterioration in the quality of government services. But the scope of recruiting meritorious ones in public service is also narrowed systematically, which forced a good number of meritorious ones to refrain from applying for government jobs. It is imperative to pay bureaucrats sufficiently to have a corruption free administration, but an enormous salary will not fend off the corrupt government employees from practicing dishonesty. Corruption is interrelated not only with salary but morality, values and process of recruitment. Where the country's public sector employment is largely (56 percent) dominated by quota suppressing merit. This government does not want talent but loyalty from public servants against public interest.
According to the Labour Force Survey 2010 conducted by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the total employed labour force in public administration and defence is only 4.24 percent out of 4.74 crore (100 percent) labour force in the country. Pay hike for less than 4.24 percent will eventually affect the rest of the people who are employed in agriculture, garments and other formal and non-formal sectors.
Perhaps, by hiking salary and increasing gas and power tariffs, the government wishes to rejuvenate the nosedived economy putting the notions of investment, FDI, good governance aside. But the artificial medicine to restart the timid macro-economy will not sustain as the initiatives will be leaked out through the holes of corruption and shortage of fuel -- local and foreign investment, business, good governance and people's rule.
To pay the proposed salary, the government has to increase the tax rate and extend VAT or other levy areas. What may be the advantage for less than 5pc of the labour force i.e government employees and their dependents; it would hurt the rest 95 percent people whose money is so extravagantly spent.