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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Payment crisis for civil service

Payment crisis for civil service

CIVIL servants say they are being left destitute because of up to three

month delays in receiving their salaries,a situation they blame on the lack

of a new government.

State employees earn between 30,000 riel ($10) and 70,000 riel ($23) a month.

And they say even when they do receive their salary it is well

the level needed to support a family.

For those people with second jobs or contributions from family members,

the situation is not so bad but for those that rely solely on their government

salary it's becoming intolerable.

Policeman Chum Saroeum, 44, said that his unit had not been paid since August

and no reason had been given for the delay.

"The accountant never says why the salary is late, he just asks us

to wait until the money comes."

Saroeum said that his monthly salary is 34,000 riel which is barely enough

to support his five family members for a week, let alone the month it is

supposed to.

He said that the economic woes were not just confined to salaries. He said

that he had not received the annual allocation of three uniforms and a new

pair of boots, nor does he now expect to.

But he said the lack of money had not stopped he or his colleagues turning

up for work yet.

"We have rotation and we are able to do business during our time off."

But, he added, if the situation did not improve soon he would resign and

try and find another job.

Chea Yusren, 50, a doctor at Sihanouk hospital complained that he and his

colleagues relied on a regular pay day. But like Saroeum he had not seen

any money since August.

He said his 50,000 riel salary was only enough to pay for electricity and

water supplies for the nine family members he supports.

He said for health workers like himself they found it particularly difficult

because they did not moonlight to supplement their incomes.

"We do not have another job. We depend on our salary. I thank my wife

for her efforts to help support my family."

Yusreng was also worried that he and his fellow health workers were unable

to devote their full attention to their patients because they were always

worrying about money.

Sometimes, when the family is facing a particular financial crisis, he said

he and his wife talk about going back to live in the countryside.

Yusreng said he was skeptical about the ability of the three political parties

to form a government quickly. Until that was done he believed the economic

crisis would only get worse.

"I am not a politician but I think that in such a situation all leaders

must make concessions to each other, otherwise the country will plunge into

crisis.

"When the country is in trouble it is the ordinary people who suffer,"

he said.

A number of the male civil servants thanked their wives for the contribution

they made to the family budget.

But there are also many women employed in the civil service and they complain

of the same financial problems.

Nup Bophary at the Ministry of Women's Affairs said that she was trying

to support seven family members on 49,000 riel a month but the money, when

she got it, would only last five days.

She said that a number of civil servants now just signed on in the morning

and then went off to do other jobs.

Teachers also say that many of them only keep going by offering private

classes and after-hours tuition.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Keat Chhon has denied there had been any problems.

He said that everyone had been paid as usual.

"We supply section to section.

"We are not late, we supply as normal," he said.

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