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China Focus: Lawmakers, advisors debate civil servant pay raise
Posted: March-11-2014Adjust font size:

    BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese lawmakers and political advisors are debating a pay raise for millions of civil servants, whose jobs were once hailed for their security and privileges.

    "We should increase the pay for civil servants. The central government has asked relevant departments to investigate and do research," said Yang Shiqiu, deputy head of the State Administration of Civil Service.

    "Civil servants at the grassroots level work very hard, but their incomes are relatively low, which affects their working morale," said Yang, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body.

    Priority should be given to public servants at the grassroots level when adjusting income distribution, he said.

    With shrinking welfare and perks in 2013 under China's frugality campaign, public servants at all levels have begun to ask for pay raises, stirring a heated debate.

    Sai Meng, head of the Blang Mountain township government of Menghai, an underdeveloped county in southwest China's Yunnan Province with multiple ethnic minorities, said he gets a monthly salary of 2,984 yuan (487 U.S. dollars).

    Sai, also a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, is under great pressure to meet the monthly payment for his newly purchased apartment worth 300,000 yuan.

    Sai is not alone.

    Many from the young generation of civil servants claim that they face high pressure and low pay and are misunderstood.

    Wang Ran, 33, a civil servant who works in a ministry in Beijing, said he receives about 5,400 yuan a month, far from enough to live a decent life in Beijing, where a one-bedroom apartment rents for more than 3,000 yuan per month and sells for over 30,000 yuan per square meter.

    However, He Wei, another member of the CPPCC National Committee, said public servants' salaries are actually not low, considering the various hidden perks and welfare for food, transportation, housing, communication and medical care.

    "Many civil servants enjoy free medical care and a high pension after retirement without paying any pension insurance beforehand," said Zhu Zhengxu, an NPC deputy and court judge from central China's Henan Province.

    "That's why the public is angry when they cry for a pay raise," said Zhu. "The existing privileges have caused estrangement between civil servants and the public."

    Corruption is another factor leading to public criticism of civil servants.

    "Although corruption is not common and is only found in individual cases, it really hurts the reputation of the whole group," said Xiong Weizheng, another NPC deputy and chairman of Henan Lingrui Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

    A total of 31 high-profile officials were investigated by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in 2013.Nationwide, about 182,000 officials were punished by the CPC's discipline inspection agencies.

    Accusations of inefficiency and arrogance have added to the criticism and opposition to the pay raise for civil servants.

    In one case in February, a CCTV reporter twice called police to report prostitution in two hotels in south China's Dongguan City, but no officer showed up.

    According to media reports, one man working in Beijing had to travel back and forth between Beijing and his hometown in Wuyi County, Hebei Province six times last year to apply for a passport as public officers in his hometown created difficulties for him.

    "Two thousand yuan is quite enough for those civil servants who spend their days drinking tea and reading newspapers," said Hu Jianwen, an NPC deputy from central China's Hunan Province.

    "Civil servants should work for the people. If they don't do their jobs, they should not feel surprised at being criticized," said Xiong.

    Yang Shiqiu admitted that some civil servants have "gray income" that includes proceeds from corruption and ethically "gray" areas of the economy, but they do not represent the whole group.

    "Gray income" should be prevented, but the low income problem of civil servants should also be dealt with, said Yang.

    About 5,000 NPC deputies and members of the CPPCC National Committee are in Beijing for the annual sessions of the top legislature and the top political advisory body.

Source: Xinhua 2014-3-10Editor: tracyliu
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