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Pay increase for top civil servants

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — The government is planning to review salaries of directors and managers in the civil service with effect from next month, the Lesotho Times can reveal.

In a circular issued on Monday last week the Ministry of Public Service announced that it is upgrading directors from Grade I to J while managers will be elevated from Grade H to I.

The circular titled “Normalisation of Grading for Positions at Director and Manager Level” was issued by the principal secretary in the public service ministry, Tsukutlane Au.

“It is notified for general information that there is anomaly on the civil servants grading structure at Grade H to J whereby some director positions are at Grade I and J, while managers are at Grades H and I,” the November 7 circular said.

“In order to rectify this, a revised salary grading for the affected positions has been developed”.

The review will add another M6 million to the government’s annual wage bill which some believe is already too high.

According to the circular the directors’ salaries would be increased from M159 804 to M185 376 per annum while those of managers would be hiked from M131 088 to M159 804 per annum.

“Ministries are advised to note that the nomenclature (classification) for some affected position in the attached list have been changed, and are therefore urged to prepare proposals accordingly for consideration of the Public Service Commission to effect these changes in cases where the positions are occupied,” the circular said.

It said because the salary review for directors and managers was not budgeted for, ministries should provide the funds from their savings.

“In view of the fact that there is no budget allocation for this change, ministries are expected to fund this normalisation from their respective budget savings from the first eight months of this Financial Year (2011/2012),” the ministry said.

It said about 198 directors and managers are expected to benefit from the review.

The circular lists the job titles and the people who will benefit from the review. The reviews range from M3 924 to M54 288 per annum.

On Monday this week the government suddenly issued another circular announcing that the November 7 circular was being “withdrawn and suspended until further notice subject to corrections”.

But ministry officials told the Lesotho Times that the withdrawal of the circular does not mean that the government will no longer review the salaries.

They said the review had been finalised but what was wrong with the first circular were the figures, the titles and the grades.

That circular, the officials who refused to be named said, carried names of some people who have been either redeployed, promoted or have left the civil service.

Au could not be reached for a comment.

His deputy Ephraim Moremoholo said he could not comment because he was acting in Au’s position.

He said only Au could comment when he comes back from leave next week.

“I suggest that you call next week because he will then be available. I cannot comment now because I am just acting,” Moremoholo said.

“But if he (Au) is not present next week I will be in a position to answer because I would have consulted.”

Public Service Minister Ramootsi Lehata could not be reached for comment last night as his phone was not available.

The review is coming in the same year that Finance Minister Timothy Thahane has said the government’s finances have been depleted by the sudden knock in Southern African Customs Union revenue which used to provide 65 percent of Lesotho’s budget in good times.

Faced with a smaller-than-usual government purse Thahane has been forced to prune costs by freezing recruitments, suspending international workshops and recommended a review of the government’s service charges.

It is because of these austerity measures that the government reviewed charges at its hospitals and schools.

Passport, vehicle registration and drivers’ licence charges have been hiked.

So has been the toll gate fee at the Maseru Bridge border post.

Traffic and other general fines are also likely to be reviewed.

Thahane has warned that things will get worse before they get better and urged everyone to “tighten their belts”.

Thahane announced during this year’s budget speech in February that public servants’ salaries would be increased by only five percent.

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