Subject: Officials' pay hikes slammed

Oct 8, 2009

Officials' pay hikes slammed

DILI - PAY hikes for lawmakers and high-level officials passed Thursday in East Timor are 'out of proportion with the economy", the opposition National Union Party said.

'With these sorts of conditions we are creating an elitist group running the country,' party leader Fernanda Borges told AFP.

The proposals received the seal of approval by parliamentary Committee C, which deals with issues related to the economy, finance and corruption. The pay increases still have to be promulgated by President Jose Ramos-Horta, whose new monthly salary of US$2,500 (S$3,476) plus an allowance of US$2,500 is the measuring stick for all the other salaries.

'It's creating structural inequality that will lead to more jealousy in the country. You should measure it with the country's capacity and whether it's sustainable or not,' Mr Borges said.

The president saw his earnings more than tripled under the new deal. Lawmakers who currently make a total of about US$1,200 a month will now earn a base of US$1,625 plus an allowance of US$1,056. The raises come in the same week as the United Nations released its annual human development rankings, which saw East Timor fall 12 places to rank 162 out of 182 countries, based on data from 2007.

'People in this country still haven't got anything. There is still so much unemployment. No one is giving them food,' Mr Borges said. -- AFP


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