Public servants’ pay hike demand shot down
- Finance Ministry says impossible under current situation
- Keheliya says public servants were paid for 2 years despite no productivity
- Basil tells National Pay Comm. to fast-track salary structure design
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Claiming that there is no possibility of raising the salaries of public servants under the present circumstances, the Finance Ministry called on the public servants who are demanding a salary increase to suggest how to obtain the necessary monies to make such a hike.
When contacted by The Morning to inquire whether the Finance Ministry would consider the said demand, Finance Ministry and Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle said: “No. It is not possible to do so because there is no provision in the Budget for such a salary increase at the moment. However, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa has asked the National Pay Commission (NPC) to fast-track the designing of a new salary structure, considering the salary anomalies, etc. That is the only proposal as of now.”
The Sri Lanka Government Officers’ Trade Union Association (SLGOTUA) on 17 November warned that if there is no positive response from the Government to their request to increase the salaries of public servants as a remedy to the rising cost of living (CoL), more than 700,000 public servants will inevitably go on a trade union action after 27 November.
Speaking further, Attygalle added that a sum of Rs. 324 billion a year would be needed to increase the salaries of all public servants by at least Rs. 18,000, as the SLGOTUA has demanded.
“There are 1.5 million public servants. It would cost Rs. 324 billion a year to increase their salaries by Rs. 18,000. At present, the Government spends only Rs. 1,000 billion to pay the total salaries,” he claimed.
He also said that the only way to increase the salaries as demanded by public servants would be to increase the taxes across the board. “Tell them to propose how to get the necessary money for it too,” he mentioned.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media on 17 November, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella stated that there is no plan as of now to increase the salaries of public servants.
“In this situation, nearly 1.5 million public servants must remember that for two years they were paid even without a deduction of one rupee, without any productivity,” he said.
Noting that while he acknowledges the fact that there are difficulties for public servants given the current situation, Rambukwella said it was his personal belief that public servants would understand the situation and endure such difficulties for another year or so.
The SLGOTUA, on 14 November, warned that more than 700,000 public servants in several sectors would initiate a trade union action without giving notice, if the Government did not increase the salaries of public servants through the 2022 Budget.
Accordingly, speaking to The Morning yesterday (17), SLGOTUA Secretary Gamini Hettiarachchi said that their demands have already been communicated in writing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Basil Rajapaksa. He added that the Government has been given a period of two weeks to respond to their requests, which will end on 27 November. He further said that if there is no positive response to their request from the Government, more than 700,000 public servants in several sectors will be engaged in a trade union action.