18 - 24 April 2001
Increase in civil service employment costs more than Lm1 million in wages
By Kurt Sansone
The number of full time employees in government departments is currently at a four-year high, moving after increasing by 316 since December 2000.
In February this year the number of civil servants stood at 30,804 according to the National Statistics Office.
The new employees will cost government more than Lm1 million in wages. Assuming they are employed at the lowest civil service scale, with an annual income of Lm3,279, they will cost the public coffers Lm1,036,164. The figure shoots up to Lm1.4 million if they are employed on scale number 15.
Government department employment was lowest in December 1997 when it stood at 30,188. This increased by 341 the following year. After that, a steady decline was registered, with the total number of civil servants for December 2000 standing at 30,488.
In February this year, the total number of public sector employees, comprising government departments, authorities and parastatal companies, amounted to 48,361. This represents an increase of 382 over the December figure.
The NSO statistics reveal that the number of gainfully occupied persons in February stood at 141,693. This is an increase of 576 over December 2000. Public sector employment accounts for more than half of this increase.
These figures show that even though the government has embarked on a tight fiscal policy with the taxman forcing taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets, it lacks the resolve to reign in public expenditure.
Public sector wages account for a hefty bill, which is paid out of public funds. The financial estimates for this year, issued with Novemberís budget show, that personal emoluments for government ministries and departments carry a bill of more than Lm194 million.
Furthermore, it is not a positive element to have half of the increase in gainfully occupied attributed to government employment.
This certainly does not bode well for private sector economic growth.