By Shakeh Avoyan
The Armenian government will sharply increase next year the salaries of civil servants in order to boost the “productivity” of various ministries and other government agencies, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said on Thursday.
“We plan to drastically raise the salaries of civil servants,” he told a weekly cabinet session broadcast live to journalists. “We can’t compete with other regional countries [at present.] In Georgia and Azerbaijan, civil service salaries are at least twice higher than in Armenia.”
“If people get low salaries we lose our competitiveness. That means we can’t attract skilled specialists because they prefer the private sector,” said Sarkisian.
The premier did not specify the precise scale of the promised pay rise. The civil service salaries have steadily risen over the past decade, averaging almost 115,000 drams ($375) per month, or 37 percent higher than Armenia’s overall monthly wage, as of last February. According to the National Statistical Service, only Armenians working for financial services and mining firms, almost all of them privately owned, boasted higher wages. By comparison, the average salary in the education sector stood at only 63,200 drams.
Sarkisian did not rule out the possibility of staff cuts in some government agencies and cited the need to develop mechanisms for evaluating the performance of all civil servants. He also complained about unspecified ministries underperforming because of poor discipline and absenteeism.
“We have ministries working from the morning till late evening,” Sarkisian told ministers. “But we have also ministries which begin their work at 10 [in the morning] and whose employees are absent during work hours. That is a serious problem. I am asking all ministers to pay attention to discipline.”