19 Jul 2004

Tonga's public sector pay review criticised

3:59 pm on 19 July 2004

Tonga's pro democracy movement has criticised a recent pay review for public servants which handed out a 64 percent pay rise to heads of government departments and five percent to all other civil servants.

The government says the 64 percent rise was recommended by an international panel to compensate heads of departments for going on to shorter term contracts.

It says the review is part of a New Zealand style reform aimed at making top public servants more accountable to ministers.

However, the pro-democracy campaigner and MP, Akilisi Pohiva, says that style of reform really only works in democracies.

"For Tonga to adopt that exercise to me is futile, it's not going to work, because the ministers are accountable to the King, and the King is not accountable to anyone."

Mr Pohiva says he fears the reform will have an impact on the performance of the civil service.