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Junta woos civil servants to move to new capital

In a bid to convince workers to move to the new capital, Myanmar's military rulers have awarded 10-fold salary raise to them.
None | By Agence France-Presse, Yangon
PUBLISHED ON MAR 25, 2006 02:17 PM IST

Myanmar's military rulers have awarded 10-fold salary increases to civil servants, an official said on Saturday, as they try to convince workers to move to the remote new administrative capital.

"Official orders to this effect are already out," a government official told the agency on condition of anonymity.

Typical wages for civil servants run from 5,000 to 10,000 kyats (4.40 to 8.77 dollars) a month, far lower than standard wages at private businesses.

The increase would reverse that, making government jobs more appealing financially, especially in a country where inflation is estimated at 25 per cent.

The salary hike will take effect on April 1, which is the start of Myanmar's fiscal year, the official said.

A local economic analyst said he believed the government would be able to pay for the huge increase without printing more money, which in the past has been a favourite tactic to meet budgetary shortfalls.

"The government has accumulated huge cash reserves and will be able to make the salary hike without having to print more money, which would be rather counter-productive" by fuelling inflation, the analyst told the agency.

Myanmar's notoriously secretive military rulers keep strict tabs on any information about their activities, forcing people with knowledge of the regime to speak anonymously for fear of retribution.

Civil servants received a huge shock in November when hundreds of them were forced to relocate to a newly created administrative capital the military was secretly building near the central Myanmar town of Pyinmana.

Government workers were given only one day to pack and make the move 320 kilometers north of Yangon.

Many chose to resign rather than live in a compound that is still under construction.

In November, many of the facilities in Pyinmana lacked water, electricity and telephones.

Because their government wages were so low, many civil servants take part-time jobs or run small businesses in Yangon to make ends meet.

Some government ministries began working from Pyinmana in February. The pay hike was seen as an incentive for workers to make the move.

Military personnel were also expected to have their salaries increased, but government officials could not provide details.

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