Heated debate over calls to give civil servants pay raise
Last Updated: 2014-03-11 09:50 | Xinhua
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Lawmakers and political advisers are debating a pay raise for millions of civil servants, whose jobs were once hailed for their security and privileges.

"We should increase the pay for civil servants. The central government has asked relevant departments to investigate," said Yang Shiqiu, deputy head of the State Administration of Civil Service.

"Civil servants at the grassroots level work very hard, but their incomes are relatively low, which affects their morale," said Yang, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body.

With shrinking welfare and perks in 2013 under China's frugality campaign, public servants at all levels have begun to ask for pay raises, stirring heated debate.

Sai Meng, head of Blang Mountain township government of Menghai, in southwest China's Yunnan Province, said he gets a monthly salary of 2,984 yuan (US$487).

Sai, also a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, is under great pressure to meet the monthly payments for his newly purchased apartment, worth 300,000 yuan.

And Wang Ran, 33, a civil servant who works in a ministry in Beijing, said that he receives about 5,400 yuan a month - far from enough for a decent standard of living in Beijing. There a one-bedroom apartment rents for more than 3,000 yuan per month and sells for more than 30,000 yuan per square meter.

However, He Wei, another member of the CPPCC, said that public servants' salaries are not low when hidden perks and welfare for food, transport, housing, communications and medical care are taken into account.

"Many civil servants enjoy free medical care and a high pension after retirement without paying any pension insurance beforehand," said Zhu Zhengxu, an NPC deputy and court judge from central China's Henan Province.

"That's why the public is angry when they cry for a pay raise," added Zhu.

Corruption cases also damage the public's image of civil servants.

"Although corruption is not common... it hurts the reputation of the group," said Xiong Weizheng, another NPC deputy and chairman of Henan Lingrui Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.

Some 31 high-profile officials were investigated by the Party's disciplinary watchdog in 2013. And nationwide, 182,000 officials were punished.

Accusations of inefficiency and arrogance have added to public criticism of civil servants.

"Two thousand yuan is quite enough for those civil servants who spend their days drinking tea and reading newspapers," said Hu Jianwen, an NPC deputy from central China's Hunan Province.

Around 5,000 NPC deputies and members of the CPPCC are meeting in Beijing for the annual sessions of the top legislature and the top political advisory body.

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