Tonga’s public servants were awarded a 5% pay rise in mid-February, back-dated to January, said Tufui Faletau, the acting CEO for the Ministry of Finance and National Planning (MFNP).
Tufui told Matatangi Tonga the MFNP has to finance the 5% salary rise from its own internal financial sources, because government ministries could not reshuffle their own budget allocations to finance their own salary increase.
The Tongan Cabinet on 20 December 2013 approved a 5% salary increase for all civil servants, to be implemented by the Ministry of Finance in the new year, January.
The then Minister of Finance, Lisiate ‘Akolo, however, took a little while to implement the Cabinet decision, then on 6 January, in Auckland he was handed a letter from the Prime Minister, telling him to resign.
Lisiate in a Press Conference in Nuku’alofa on 10 January said that he had been accused of being arrogant and uncooperative, and that he had been told to resign.
He refused to resign because he disagreed with the accusations.
He said that since the Cabinet agreed for the 5% salary rise, they had been trying to figure out where to get the $5 million from. The three options they were assessing were:
- For government ministries to internally reshuffle their budget allocation to fund the 5% salary rise
- For the Ministry to assess their Contingency Fund to make sure they had reserves to meet unexpected needs
- For the Ministry to look at the possibility of a Supplementary Budget to be presented to parliament
Lisiate said that one of his major concerns was that 52% of government ministries’ budget allocation is for salaries, and a 5% increase would push it up to 57%. He was worried that donors of budget support funding would not be too happy for their donations to go on only salaries.
However, on 13 January HM King Tupou VI appointed Dr ‘Aisake Eke, the Tongatapu No. 5 People’s Representative as Tonga’s new Minister of Finance, back dated to 10 January.
NUKU’ALOFA, (Matangi Tonga)