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Myanmar civil servants, military get pay rise

AFP
Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012

YANGON – Myanmar on Wednesday approved a pay rise for civil servants which will nearly double the wages of the lowest paid government workers, state media reported, in a bid to curb corruption fostered by low pay.

The finance ministry said salaried civil servants and military personnel would get a rise of 30,000 kyats (S$48) a month from April 1, the same day as by-elections in which opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is standing for the first time.

The lowest paid workers in government departments and organisations currently earn 1,100 kyats a day and will receive an extra 1,000 a day.

Myanmar’s civil servants, who make up 3.3 percent of the population, are badly paid compared to other professions and many turn to asking for “tea money”, or small bribes, to survive.

Ordinary labourers and workers earn around $100 a month and members of parliament receive about $375 a month.

Lower House speaker Shwe Mann, a former junta number three who is considered one of the country’s most influential reformers, has been pushing for civil service pay to be doubled to help combat widespread graft.

“We must give a high enough salary to school teachers, the police, soldiers and government staff,” he told MPs in February, adding that
otherwise staff would supplement shortfalls in their income in ways that would damage their “character”.

Shwe Mann wants workers living standards brought into line with those enjoyed by government staff before almost half a century of military rule which left the economy in tatters.

The April 1 polls are seen as a major test of the reform agenda of the new army-backed government that replaced outright military rule last year.

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