While there is a need to review public sector salaries, the time is not right as it would impact national efforts to grow the private sector, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Minister of Finance and Economy II Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said yesterday.
The minister was responding to a query by Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad (pic below) during the third day of the 18th LegCo session.
The Parliament member called for a review of salaries of the whole public sector as well as better career and retirement programmes.
The LegCo member cited statistics from a study by Key Indicator of Labour Market of Brunei in 2014-2015 and the Labour Study 2020, showing an 18-per-cent drop in the average monthly income for locals, adding that the last comprehensive review of salaries was in 1999 and raised possibly of retention and ‘brain-drain’ in the public sector if left unaddressed.
Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew replied that the country is in the midst of developing the economy into a more advanced stage and salaries in the private sector is slightly lower than those of the public sector due to the public sector’s various benefits.
“We must think of the fact that if we adjust public sector salaries, it will have negative implication to the private sector, because right now we are trying to encourage the economy to be driven by the private sector,” he said.
Yang Berhormat Iswandy also raised public concerns that some government services have not adapted to the digital age.
“For instance, the public said that some online applications that can be reviewed online must also be reviewed manually and the physical application must be sent again,” he said.
The minister replied that the government is continuing to strive to improve the use of digital technology in its service delivery, and the digital expansion becomes more evident in the COVID-19 pandemic.