Lao Teachers Face Three Months of Late Wages

2013-10-10
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A mathematics class in Champassak province, Jan. 30, 2012.
A mathematics class in Champassak province, Jan. 30, 2012.
Biosphoto

Teachers in some areas in impoverished Laos have not received wages for more than three months amid financial problems gripping the government, according to a group of teachers in the country’s capital.

The teachers from Vientiane’s Sanakham district told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday that the salary delays added to frustration following reports that the government will suspend a monthly allowance for civil servants.

“Our salaries have been delayed for three months but we are told that we have to be patient,” one teacher told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The government owes [us] money—each of us three months. Some people are owed 4 million kip (U.S. $500), but others are owed as much as 5 million kip (U.S. $635).”

The teacher said that salary delays for educators had occurred in “many places across the country,” without providing details.

Reports indicate that back pay is also owed to civil servants in several lines of work, including military personnel, police, and retirees.

Allowance suspension

The complaints of wage delays followed an announcement by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong last week that the government would suspend a 760,000 kip (U.S. $97) per month living allowance paid to state employees and push ahead with a promised salary increase.

State employees told RFA that they had received no official notice of when the suspension would go into effect.

The International Monetary Fund has told Lao authorities in recent annual consultations to tighten its policies to avoid a major economic crisis.

The Fund had raised concerns about Laos’s rising inflation, the banking system, public spending, deteriorating current account deficit, and falling international reserves, IMF officials said.

The IMF warning came amid a persistent shortfall in revenue, which led Thongsing to order ministries and government agencies last month to closely control expenditures for Laos to pay its debts and avoid a financial crisis.

A recent report by the local Vientiane Times called the payments for the monthly allowance to be scrapped “far bigger than the pledged increase to state salaries.”

The allowance, which is mostly used to help civil servants pay their electricity and water bills, was introduced last fiscal year, which ran from October to September this year.

“They [the government] have not sent out an official notification, so there are many offices calling each other to ask how to calculate salaries and whether to include the allowance or not,” a finance official told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“So far, this is only speculation because the government has not notified us yet and we assume we should continue with pay as usual, but we will certainly receive a notification at some point,” she said.

She called on the Ministry of Finance to distribute an official document for use as reference in salary payment to end the “confusion.”

Budget tensions

The allowance cut comes amid budget tensions that the Ministry of Finance said were caused by lower-than-targeted tax collection coupled with a 140-percent increase in state allowance and salary payments last fiscal year, the Vientiane Times reported.

During the last fiscal year, the government spent almost 3 trillion kip (U.S. $381 million) on allowances paid to state employees.

The Ministry of Finance estimates that it will save around 1 billion kip (U.S. $127 million) by cutting the allowance, which Thongsing said last week was never meant to be permanent, adding that the move had been made to avoid possible economic crisis and social disorder.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Bounchanh Moaungkham. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Comments (4)
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huk Lao

from wonder land

Simply just look at the class picture on this headline news folks, it's ridiculous. What in the world of Lao PDR governements! They have no shame to the world but just keep playing deft and blind in day-in and day-out. They don't care what so ever but their wallets and bank accounts. The problem will be solved if there's no corrupter like Choummarly, Kamtay or other scumbags followers are stealing of Lao people. They love Benjamin or George Washington $$$.

Dec 25, 2013 11:44 AM

LaoLao

from Vientiane

There would not be any payment problems if those tax collectors are not corrupted. Every time they venture out to collect taxes from businesses, they would keep nearly %50 of it for themselves, at the expense of honest state employees. Punish the corrupted tax collectors and most of the salary problems will be solved.

Dec 05, 2013 11:24 PM

Mickchaleonsouk

from vientiane

I Like the Radio free Asia

Oct 24, 2013 08:19 AM

Former student

from U.S

I was in freshman when I left Laos in 2000. We were the first generation of students who received free and new textbooks in every subjects. We returned them back to school by the end of the year. I remember this young history teacher who came from Vientiane to teach us Pavasad and Phoumsad. He was so restricted and everybody was so scared of him. Anyway, i feel bad for our teachers because they worked very hard and got paid a little salary. Some teachers even taught after school at their house to make extra money to survive.

Oct 18, 2013 01:16 AM

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