Ministers competing with bureaucrats for enhanced salaries looks odd28 January 2016 Editorial Desk
The government initiative to double the pay and perks of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other ministers and the tabulation of four bills to parliament in this regard on Monday has raised the question if the public money is only for the benefit of the ministers and government servants.
As the public debate on the issue is gaining ground, the government has also announced a fresh move this time to enhance and honorariums and other allowances of public representatives of local government bodies.
Under the move the LGRD Ministry has proposed to significantly enhance the financial benefits of chairman and councillors of union parishad, upazila, district council and municipalities to allow them to enjoy a better life.
And no sooner had the disclosure come; the Parliamentary Standing Committee returned the four bills of President, Prime Minister, Speaker and ministers' pay hike to include lawmakers' pay hike in yet another bill. Lawmakers got their salary enhanced only last year and they are going to get it again.
Many believe that the government leaders may be acting on the belief that every one within the government should get more remuneration and allowances as part of its plan to secure their loyalty to the government.
But question also arises as to whether the government has enough resources to support such lavish financial load from the national exchequer; which is invariably not prevailing in the present situation.
Moreover, what will happen to people outside the government? The poor economic situation is only spreading more corruption and misuse of public money at all levels than productivity to reach the benefit of development to people; which the government is speaking so loudly without visibility in the ground.
Many fear that the huge government expenditure on salary and allowances of government servants is marginalizing others who are left out of the government and without regular income. Their condition will only deteriorate from soaring inflation and widening gap in their purchasing power as against the beneficiaries of the government. High cost of living will become higher for the general public.
The thoughtless rise in salary; which has been already doubled for bureaucrats and going to be doubled for others is invariably going to bring severe pressure on private sector in terms of higher demand for wages. The government can pay higher salaries from the exchequer and even increase tax but private sector has to earn the money to pay; which is only becoming tougher as the economy is stagnated and no investment forthcoming.
What is more significant is that the cascading effect of such salary rise has already resulted in income disparity and discord among various segments of the bureaucracy. Government college teachers are now on strike demanding restoration of their lost privilege in the new pay scale. University teachers just ended their strike on government promise to remove discrepancies against them. Cadre officers of 29 professional groups are also threatening actions demanding removal of anomalies in the new pay scale.
It is most surprising that the political leaders in the government are competing with public employees for higher salaries. They do not forget to remind us that they are in power only for serving the people and not for enhancing their self-interest. As politics is absent so the party leaders behave as selfishly as they can. Blaming political leaders, when we do not have political leaders is not fair.