This time tomorrow, civil servants will be eagerly awaiting their pay and it wont be in positive anticipation – but rather to find out just how much 5% means from their hard-earned income.
And whilst up in battle command – Teleni and Leweni continue to make veiled threats, Bainimarama has chosen to make a plea seeking the ‘cooperation and understanding’ or trade union leaders, civil servants and ordinary members of the public’ to move the country forward.
In a ministry of information statement and on television news, Bainimarama says a nationwide strike by the confederation of public sector unions could ‘undo the good work’ the Interim Regime has done so far.
One wonders what good work he means but in any case, he tries to explain why his regime has chosen to;
- implement a 5% pay cut for all civil servants;
- bring down retirement age to 55 on a staggered basis over two years; and
- review Government’s obligations under the Partnership Agreement.
Predictably he attributes the need to make civil servants bear the full brunt of his changes to the alleged ‘neglect, mismanagement and poor governance which existed over the last six years.’
It was the SDL and not the December 5 takeover, Bainimarama says which has put our economy on a path of decline which has beloved
Contradicting himself, the head of the military says our country is suffering from both increased unemployment and underemployment.
Bainimarama also blames the Qarase-led government for the decline in production and investment and blames emigration on race based policies.
Above all though, the IR says the cost of maintaining the civil service pay accounts for over 40% of government expenditure which he says is clearly not in the interest of the nation “if we are to reduce poverty and to turn the economy around.”
Why all the fuss Bainimarama says when in following the coup in 1987 civil servants pay were cut by 15 % and by 12.5% in 2000.
Civil servants shouldn’t feel they will suffer alone either because the IR and their newly-elected Permanent Secretaries will also take a pay cut – and mind you, by as much as 35 % in some cases, never mind that this is not really a pay cut. The Military had from the start of the coup said the last government were excessively paid and any Interim administration he put in place would not put this country through the same treatment. Now he is calling it a pay-cut.
We should be glad also that this IR will not received allowances that elected representatives of the lower house are normally entitled to despite that their “workload as Ministers has increased almost twofold” – Bainimarama said.
And while we are talking about how good this IR is, lets talk about transparency because Bainimarama assures us he will reveal provide a full listing of what the salary and benefits of the respective Ministers are “for the purpose of transparency.” Pity that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander because apparently the military does not thrive on transparency – we are all still wondering what happened to Saki and Nimi and whether those soldiers responsible for their brutal deaths will ever see the inside of a court room.
But wait – the plot thickens because now Bainimarama is trying to confuse union members and accused union leaders of lies and deceit.
“I ask how much are the Union leaders sacrificing for their members?”
He says Partnership Agreement which came into being in 2006 was an agreement between the SDL government and the public sector union to secure votes. Somehow I cant imagine Rajeshwar Singh agreeing to that – but anyway, this is our Prime Minister we are talking about.
“As a result the civil servants were promised pay rises regardless of productivity. This obviously is at the expense of ordinary members of the public and the poor.”
Bainimarama ends by saying we must all share in the pain of the effects of the take over and civil servants cannot be willfully exempted from this.
It would be “irresponsible governance" to spare public servants from sharing in the burden of the takeover.
“I pray that you will work with us in moving our country forward.”
Before I sign off, please take time to visit our fellow Freedom Blogger who has something to say about dictatorship.