Minister promises to submit bill on public salaries

Salaries for pubic employees have become controversial, thanks to newspaper and television reports on excesses in the face of a looming budget crisis.

So Olga Marta Sánchez Oviedo, minister of  Planificación Nacional y Política Económica, went to the legislature Tuesday with a promise of a proposed bill that would improve the quality and equality of public employment.

She had a 46-page presentation, which, among other topics, addressed what she said were the myths of public employment.

Among what she called myths is the belief that salaries are higher in public employment than in the public sector. She said salary comparisons were faulty because 75 percent of the public employees are professionals whereas only about 26 percent are in private employment. She also said that the government’s financial problems could not be solved by reducing the payrolls.

The bill that she promised would have an evaluation process that would be used to provide merit raises. La Nación, the Spanish-language newspaper, has reported that in three branches of government all the workers get merit raises every year.

The minister also called for the creation of a mixed commission to study the salary situation and make suggestions within six months.

Lawmakers, business operators and union leaders would be on the commission, she said.

Her presentation was met with skepticism from a number of lawmakers.

But representatives of the Partido Acción Ciudadana, the party of President Luis Guillermo Solís, quickly issued a statement in favor of what they called the Comisión Especial Mixta Investigadora y Dictaminadora.

The minister’s report cited statistics from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos that said 305,000 persons work for the government.

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