After a two-year Covid-19 hiatus, Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 13 announced a pay raise for more than 360,000 civil servants effective in 2023, with health and education officials receiving the highest raise and now earning a base salary of 1.5 million riel ($375).
Hun Sen announced the pay raise at a graduation ceremony for 2,000 students from the Royal School of Administration.
“We prepared the budget for next year ... We failed to offer them a pay raise for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021. Now we’ll increase it without thinking about percentages.
“We’ll increase it accordingly: Lower-salary earners will get a bigger pay raise than high-salary earners. Teachers and medical staff will now be paid 1.5 million riel – from between 1.2 and 1.3 million riel previously. We can do this now because we have curtailed a lot of spending compared to the Covid period,” he added.
Hun Sen said that despite the world being in chaos due to war and the pandemic, Cambodia’s economy has yet to reach the level of risk that would portend its collapse.
The premier also recommended that Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth consider implementing a salary tax deduction to help low-salary earners in the state and private sectors or by just raising the ceiling on taxable salaries.
“For those with a salary below 1.5 million riel, we can make it so that it’s not taxable. We do so in order to avoid having those with the lowest salaries being taxed and ensuring those with higher salaries are taxed. We’re thinking about doing this in both the public and private sectors,” he said.
Hun Sen emphasised that civil servants have to serve the people honestly and they should not consider themselves bosses. They must solve problems for the people even if they are small ones.
“What I want to remind our officials is they have to remember and remind themselves on a regular basis that we are the officials who must serve the people honestly, not the bosses of people,” he said.
“Please grasp this point that we are servants of people, not their bosses, and we have to consider service the goal of what we must do. As an official, if we do not consider service our goal, then we don’t need to be officials,” he said.
Ministry of Civil Service spokesman Youk Bunna said on June 13 that the government plans to offer a pay raise in 2023, but first they must prepare the budget law and take into account other expenditures throughout the year.
“This pay raise will be offered to civil servants nationwide and members of the armed forces, not just to teachers and medical staff. [Hun Sen] is aware of all of that, he’s just making mention of the priority sectors of health and education. But the government has to make plans that include the general civil servants, including the armed forces and other officials at the sub-national levels,” he said.
Bunna added that the government had planned to increase the salaries of civil servants as part of its five-year plan running from 2018-2023, but failed to do so due to the Covid-19 crisis.
“We have managed to handle the Covid situation well and the possibility of increasing civil servant income is strong. That’s why the government thought of this matter. So, we have the possibility of doing all this work,” he said.
“It is a contribution to supporting the improvement of public services. It will encourage civil servants to focus on their work and strive to serve people even better and it will help sustain the livelihoods of civil servants, allowing them to better contribute to improvement in public services.”
Bunna continued that there are now more than 210,000 civil servants in the government, including 120,000 teachers, 20,000 medical staffers, and more than 150,000 members of the armed forces.