Editorial: 5% Civil Servant Wage Raise Affordable


In an editorial in the Bangkok Post, a contributor criticizes the 5% raise to be put into place for Thai civil servants based on the belief...

In an editorial in the Bangkok Post, a contributor criticizes the 5% raise to be put into place for Thai civil servants based on the belief that it is unaffordable, and would drag Thailand into a California or Greek-esque financial crisis. My editorial rebuts these unsubstantiated claims and provides solid evidence to demonstrate that the increase is affordable and reasonable.

By Karn G. Bulsuk

In the Post Bag’s editorial piece titled "Strapped for cash" on August 10, the author demonstrates a fundamental lack of knowledge on government and economics. The author's basic premise is that state official salaries should not be raised by 5% because the American and European economies are not doing well, and that budget cuts should be the basis of Thailand’s fiscal policy.

Economies in Asia have weathered the economic problems of the West relatively well, and are not affected as much as initially feared. In fact, the Revenue Department has reported that tax receipts since the beginning of the fiscal year have exceeded targets by as much as 30%. Coupled with more efficient tax collection, an expanded tax base and strong economic recovery, tax collection beyond targets is a pattern which is expected to continue.

An annual raise of 5% also needs to be put into perspective. A UN study has indicated that the wages of a civil servant ranges from 4,100 baht to 59,000 baht a month, dependant on job grade and years of service. Compared to the private sector, this is extremely low. We also need to consider that a 5% increase is a tiny fraction of what the private sector would provide, which is usually in the realm of a 10-15% annual raise.

The comparison to California and Greece is also logically unsound. Unlike California, Thailand is not constitutionally bound to a balanced budget and is able to utilize debt as a basic fiscal tool. Thailand’s use of deficit spending is nothing new, and is common throughout governments to continue to finance projects. Unlike Greece, Thailand is not bankrupt and has 149,000 million USD worth of foreign reserves: the 11th most in the world.

We must consider than given the increases in tax revenue, continued economic recovery and the fact that wages of civil servants are already low to start with, a 5% increase is more than affordable and should be welcomed, not condemned.



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Karn Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Editorial: 5% Civil Servant Wage Raise Affordable
Editorial: 5% Civil Servant Wage Raise Affordable
Karn Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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