Pay rise planned for Bahrain’s public sector
Manama, April 3, 2012
Pay rises are in the pipeline for Bahrain’s public sector workers after the Shura Council approved a royal decree sanctioning nearly BD400 million ($1.06 billion) of additional spending to boost wages and allowances.
Many successfully argued the money was needed to help boost the economy following international financial crisis and unrest.
But others argued it would only force the government to borrow more from international banks, which could have negative long-term implications.
The decree, issued by His Majesty King Hamad, is in line with the consensus reached at last year's National Dialogue.
It sanctions BD388.5 million divided into BD96.9 million for last year and BD291.6 million for this year.
Council first vice-chairman Jamal Fakhro said the government had not been clear where the money was from.
'We learn later that the government's budget deficit is increased as it asks us to increase the maximum limit to allow it to borrow more from Arab, Islamic and international banks,' he said.
'Today, pay rises will make us happy but in future our selfishness will affect upcoming generations because they will have to repay borrowed money and then we will see how standards of living will be affected.'
But financial and economic affairs committee chairman Khalid Al Maskati backed the move.
'Increasing wages and allowances is important because it means that businesses in Bahrain flourish, which would in return also mean improvements to wages and allowances of those working in the private sector,' he said.
'The budget deficit is another issue that can be addressed when the new budget will come within the coming months because then we can make changes to allocated funds and spending.
'This decree comes to fulfil the public's will and we see it as something important that has helped the market regain some of its lost strength.'
Council member Mohammed Al Musalam, who abstained from voting, said the government is borrowing too much money.
'Gulf Air has got BD400 million in financial support and will soon get around BD700 million, which is more than BD1 billion to help it continue. Some of that money could have been used to fund increases to government employees' pensions,' he said.
'Let Gulf Air stand on its own feet, spoiling them through pumping in more aid every time has meant that a lot of money got squandered unnecessarily.'
Sameera Rajab said Bahrain's excessive spending was being encouraged through more government borrowing.
'Whenever the government increases people's income they tend to spend more than what they have,' she said.
'Let the economy and public stand alone, we can't go on adding more to the budget while we don't have enough resources to fund our spending.'
Lulwa Al Awadhi said council members were living in lavish lifestyles and therefore were negligent about the suffering Bahrainis were going through.
'Not everyone is able to stand alone especially when living costs are higher than people's income,' she said. – TradeArabia News Service
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