PETALING JAYA: The head of the country’s largest civil service union today panned the suggestion by a prominent businessman for civil servants earning above RM3,000 a month to take a pay cut in light of revenue shortfalls caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cuepacs president Adnan Mat said civil servants are in the B40 and M40 groups and take home on average only 20% of their salaries due to various deductions including for house and car loans.
“This 20% is for us to spend, so if there are pay cuts, it could affect our ability to spend,” he told FMT.
He added that civil servants’ spending at markets and shops helped stimulate the economy during the movement control order (MCO) period, and said they were hurt by the suggestion by Ameer Ali Mydin, the managing director of the Mydin chain of hypermarkets where many of them do their shopping.
Ameer said yesterday that the government’s revenue would be affected not only by the falling prices of exports such as crude oil and palm oil, but also in the collection of various taxes, including the sales and services taxes, due to shuttered businesses and reduced consumer spending.
Adnan said even though there was a moratorium on loan repayments from banks, the extra money was used to cover increased household expenses as the civil servants and their families remained at home.
He added that of the 1.6 million civil servants, 1.2 million were frontliners like the police, armed forces personnel and health ministry staff or those working from home.
He added that elected representatives should also continue receiving full salaries as they have a responsibility to the people and an important role to play.
“People think they draw big salaries but the truth is it is not that big. They are very close to the people and sometimes use their own money to help them.
“We cannot deny the role played by assemblymen and MPs. When the people’s problems are brought to their attention, they help. It’s just that sometimes we do not see it.”
Former senior civil servant Ramon Navaratnam said in principle, it was fair that everyone make sacrifices including civil servants.
However, he said pay cuts for the civil service should apply only to those earning above a certain amount. He said this was something the government should discuss with Cuepacs.
The former treasury deputy secretary-general said the government had to find the money somewhere to fund its stimulus package and aid initiatives which he added were bound to have an impact on the country’s deficit level.
“These can either be funded by borrowing, savings or new revenues, including new or higher taxes. At the end of the day, someone has to pay. Money doesn’t grow on trees.
“People must realise that sacrifices have to be made. Naturally, some will suffer more than others, but everyone must share the burden.”
Universiti Malaya economist Nazari Ismail said the employment contracts of civil servants must be honoured, otherwise the government could be taken to court.
“Moreover, civil servants’ salaries are low relative to those in the private sector. This is a known fact.
“But this is compensated by the security they get in the form of stable salaries regardless of the economic situation.”
He said private sector employees enjoy higher salaries as they are subject to higher risks as far as the economic situation is concerned.
“Now that the economic situation has deteriorated, people in the private sector should not suddenly complain about the pay of the civil service.
“They should have anticipated the possibilities of the economy going down and made the necessary provisions.”
Previously, Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali said senior civil servants from Grade Jusa C and above would be contributing 5% and 10% of their fixed allowances to the Covid-19 fund.
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