Fri, 14 Jan 2000

President may get Rp 107m in planned pay hike

JAKARTA (JP): A senior official confirmed on Thursday the government's plan to raise the salaries of state officials and civil servants, including the President, who under the plan would receive Rp 107.4 million (US$14,900) a month.

The official, who is also involved in preparing the 2000 draft budget, said adequate salaries were a precondition to good governance.

"But the President's salary, even after the planned raise, would still be negligible compared to the income of Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who is among the highest paid prime ministers in the world," said the official, who asked for anonymity.

Informed sources said the prime minister of Singapore, a country whose per capita income is several times higher than Indonesia's, received more than $58,000 a month, including perks.

Documents outlining the proposed salary increases for state officials and government personnel which were obtained by The Jakarta Post show the gross monthly pay -- salary and allowances -- of the President would be raised from Rp 33 million ($4,580) to Rp 107.4 million beginning in April.

The plan, which appears to be have been endorsed by the International Monetary Fund, will raise Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri's gross monthly salary to Rp 89.5 million from Rp 22.04 million.

Cabinet ministers, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and military chiefs will have their gross monthly salaries raised to Rp 44.75 million from Rp 5.6 million, according to the documents.

Members of the House of Representatives, the Supreme Advisory Council, Supreme Court justices and key officials at the Supreme Audit Agency will see their salaries increased to Rp 27.6 million a month from the present Rp 5.5 million.

The speakers of the House and the People's Consultative Assembly and the chief of the Supreme Audit Agency will be paid Rp 45.5 million a month, compared to the Rp 6.37 million they now receive.

The gross monthly pay of provincial governors will be raised to Rp 18 million from 2.3 million and district chiefs will receive Rp 10.7 million from the Rp 1.68 million they currently earn.

The documents also propose a 20 percent across-the-board raise in the salaries of civil servants and military and police personnel beginning in April, the start of the 2000 fiscal year.

The latest data shows the basic monthly salary of lower-rung civil servants is about Rp 175,000.

Minister of Finance Bambang Sudibyo declined to comment on the planned pay increases. However, he did say the president and vice president were entitled to high pay.

"Given their great responsibility, senior state officials deserve higher pay than corporate directors," Bambang said at the House of Representatives.

He added that presently the official salary of the President was much less than that of the central bank governor and the chief of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency.

"For example, my official income, including allowances and perks, now amounts to only about Rp 10 million a month," Bambang was quoted as saying.

State Secretary Ali Rahman confirmed on Thursday President Abdurrahman Wahid's plan to raise the salaries of state officials and Cabinet members.

Ali said a final decision on the planned pay hikes would be made during a plenary Cabinet session scheduled for Friday.

"What I know as of today is that the President intends to increase the salaries, but I do not know the amount or levels of increases," Ali told The Post after meeting with the President at Bina Graha presidential office.

During the session, the Cabinet will discuss the final draft budget for the 2000 fiscal year. The proposed salary hikes, including those for civil servants, are included in the draft budget which will be submitted to the House next Thursday, Ali said.

He said the President's plan was based on the 1999 Law on Civil Service, which stipulates that the salaries of civil servants must be linked to salaries in the private sector. However, he refused to elaborate on the details of the planned salary increases.

House Speaker Akbar Tandjung said he was unaware of the plan to raise the pay of senior officials, but said the House had asked the government to increase the pay of civil servants and military and police personnel.

Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra was unable to hide his pleasure upon learning of the plan, although he asked The Post to confirm the report with Bambang.

"I just heard it from you, but tomorrow the minister of finance will discuss the matter," Yusril said.

Minister of Maritime Exploration Sarwono Kusumaatmadja refused to comment on the matter, saying only Minister of Finance Bambang Sudibyo had the authority to answer such questions.

"For me the most important thing is how to manage the official salary. I am used to a small income," Sarwono said.

Akbar said any increases in the salaries of state officials should be adjusted according to the country's economic condition and the state budget.

Aberson Marle Sihaloho, an outspoken legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), urged the House to reject the planned raise for state officials.

"The planned steep increase will certainly draw criticism and protest, incite envy among the people and strengthen inflationary pressures. Moreover, it is not a guarantee for a clean government, efficiency and an end to corruption in the bureaucracy," Aberson said.

Corruption can be minimized and stability maintained only if the supremacy of the law is upheld, he said.

He said the government should instead raise the desperately low salaries of civil servants, including police officers, to improve their productivity and encourage them to enforce the law.

Aberson also said Indonesia would remain under the control of developed nations and the International Monetary Fund if its economic development program continued to depend on foreign loans from the fund.

People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Amien Rais objected to the planned increase in the salaries of senior officials, saying it would be preferable to raise the salaries of civil servants.

"I will donate one-eighth of my salary to mosques if the gross monthly income of the MPR speaker is increased to Rp 45 million as planned," he said. (prb/rms/vin)