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Civil Servants Face 12.5% Pay Cut

CIVIL SERVANTS FACE 12.5% PAY CUT

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SUVA: Fiji Islands civil servants may have their pay cut by 12.5 per cent starting next month, the Fiji Times reported today.

A Finance Ministry memorandum this week advised the Information Technology Centre which processes salaries, of a 12.5 per cent pay cut across the board from August 1.

The move is part of wide-ranging public sector moves to regulate an "unprecedented" 15 per cent contraction in the economy.

It affects about 17,000 civil servants, including the disciplined forces, nurses, doctors and teachers.

A letter by Anare Jale, secretary to the Public Service, says the impact of the crisis on real gross gross domestic product was "two and a half times worse than in 1987", when then Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka staged his two coups.

"The effect of the crisis will be felt in all areas of the economy and 7000 jobs have already been lost, with predictions of as high as 20,000 if certain scenarios are realised," he was quoted by the Fiji Times as saying.

Last night, public sector union officials were disappointed with the pay cut directive, saying they were under the impression that negotiations were still underway.

The Fiji Times appealed in an editorial today for the interim president and prime minister not to cave in to demands by the rebels led by George Speight who yesterday left Parliament and set up camp in Kalabu Fijian School near Suva.

The rebels burned vehicles, damaged the parliamentary chambers and trashed the compound in retaliation to the cabinet swearing-in ceremony, which was called off.

The rebels were angry that just two of Speight's key supporters were named in the cabinet line-up - both as assistant ministers.

The Fiji Times said interim President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli and Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase now faced their first big test over Speight's further demands about cabinet representation.

"The people expect their leaders to lead and demonstrate, by their actions, true leadership. After all, the leaders are the ones who have been chosen to run the country," the paper said.

"Now is not the time for our leaders to shirk their responsibilities and cave in."

Qarase reportedly refused to formally meet Speight face-to-face in a brief encounter, saying that a meeting "in the same room is against my principles".

Meanwhile, officials said Constitution Day on July 24 would still be celebrated as a public holiday in spite of the the 1997 constitution having been abrogated after the May 19 insurrection.

+++niuswire

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