YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–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 Sargsyan 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 Armenia’s 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.
Sargsyan 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 under performing 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."
In other news, the Prime Minister also reiterated the need for oversight over Armenia’s Mass Media as he outlined a series of initial steps the government will take to ensure more responsible reporting.
It is necessary to create a constructive dialogue between the country’s mass media and the various government press services, he said. Often times, the media exaggerates the news and reports on events in a way that does not correspond to reality.
"Media Seminars will be conducted for journalists and representatives of the press services in order to establish journalistic standards," Sargsyan explained
The press services of the all the government ministries must analyze the information reported by the press, he said, adding, that media publications will be checked to ensure that a real picture of the events re being reported.
Those in the Mass Media must realize that they are responsible for the information they spread, he stressed.