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Cablegate: Burma: Despite Pay Raise, Civil Service Salaries

VZCZCXRO0890
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGO #0054/01 0290139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 290139Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9782
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 3144
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2470
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2388
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 5335
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2297
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1926
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 2401
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000054

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, INR/EAP,
PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN ETRD PREL PGOV PINR BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: DESPITE PAY RAISE, CIVIL SERVICE SALARIES
REMAIN LOW

RANGOON 00000054 001.2 OF 002


Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Effective December 31, 2009, Government of Burma
(GOB) employees in wage and salaried positions received pay
raises. For the lowest paid employees this increase more
than doubled pay, to just over USD1 per day. Higher paid
officials saw more modest gains and the highest salaries now
top out around USD220 per month. Inflation since the last
pay increase in April 2006 offsets most of the gains.
Despite this election-year pay raise, public sector employees
remain poorly paid and many face pressure to find outside
sources of income, either licit or illicit. End summary.

Salaries Double in Some Cases...
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) Confirming rumors that have been swirling about an
election-year pay increase, the GOB's official gazette
published a notice January 22 that civil servants have
received raises. The notice, issued by Minister of Finance
and Revenue Major General Hla Tun and dated December 31,
2009, cited Tatmadaw (Burmese military) concern for the
welfare of civil servants and the approaching Armed Forces
Day (March 27). The new scales revealed in the announcement
are substantially higher than those in effect between 4/2006
and 12/2009.

3. (SBU) Under the new schedule, GOB wage workers are paid
at the rate of 1100 Burmese kyat (K) (USD 1.10 at the
prevailing unofficial exchange rate) per day, more than
double the previous daily wage of K 500 (USD 0.50). Salaried
workers also received substantial increases. For those on
the lowest-paid tier, salaries basically doubled, while those
in the higher tiers saw more modest gains. The last GOB pay
increase was in April 2006 when wage workers saw their pay
jump from K100 to K500.

But Don't Quit Your Night Job...
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) Even with these seemingly significant pay increases,
likely intended to curry favor in advance of the 2010
elections, GOB employees are very poorly paid. Wage workers
now make about USD 1 per day and the highest paid civil
servants (below minister level) earn about USD 220 per month.
Many civil servants operate private businesses or have
second jobs to augment their government salaries. Low
government salaries also contribute to widespread official
corruption. Transparency International ranked Burma as the
third most corrupt country in its latest rankings. While the
higher salaries are undoubtedly welcome, they are unlikely to
remove the financial pressures on most civil servants.
Accurate inflation estimates for Burma are elusive; but
knowledgeable sources place 2006-2009 cumulative inflation in
the neighborhood of 50 percent. For the lowest paid workers
this pay increase might actually be a modest increase in
purchasing power, but those on the higher rungs of the civil
service ladder actuall
y have less purchasing power now, after the raise, than they
did in 2006.


6. (SBU) The total number of public sector employees in
Burma is unclear. A 2005 estimate presented at an ASEAN
conference on civil service issues described the GOB civil
service as approximately one million strong. More recent
estimates are not available. Likewise, breakdowns for
numbers of employees in each pay category are not available.

GOB Salary Scale
----------------


RANGOON 00000054 002.2 OF 002


7. (SBU) The GOB monthly salary scale follows (K1,000 =
approx. US$ 1).


Title Old Salary New
Salary
Assistant Helper K15,000-K20,000
K35,000-K40,000
Helper K21,000-K26,000
K41,000-K46,000
Lower Divisional Clerk K27,000-KK32,000
K47,000-K52,000
Upper Divisional Clerk K33,000-K38,000
K53,000-K58,000
Branch Clerk K39,000-K44,000
K59,000-K64,000
Superintendent K45,000-K50,000
K65,000-K70,000
Staff Officer/ K80,000-K90,000
K100,000-K110,000
Assistant Manager
Assistant Director/ K100,000-K110,000
K120,000-K130,000
Manager
Deputy Director/ K120,000-K130,000
K140,000-K150,000
Assistant General Manager
Director/ K140,000-K150,000
K160,000-K170,000
Deputy General Manager
Deputy Director General/ K160,000-K170,000
K180,000-K190,000
General Manager
Director General/ K190,000-K200,000
K210,000-K220,000
Managing Director

DINGER

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