17 Jul 2004

Tonga defends hefty pay rise for top civil servants

9:12 am on 17 July 2004

The Tongan government's defending a recent review of the public service which handed out a 64 per cent pay rise to heads of government departments and five per cent to all other civil servants.

Eseta Fusitua, the chief secretary to the cabinet, says the review was part of a wide ranging reform of the public service along similar lines to that of Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji.

A key part of that was taking heads of department off permanent staff and putting them on one to two year contracts.

Ms Fusitua says the review panel recommended the salary increase to compensate for the loss of permanency.

"When you lose permanence and you move into such a short term contract, I think everyone will understand that a one year to two year contract is about the worst kind of duration you can get for a contract. Nevertheless that's the basis for the decision and that's the basis for the 64 per cent rise."

Ms Fusitua says the five per cent rise is an interim measure for the public service until a proper review of their pay can be carried out.