Protest gathering urges equalization of salaries

KABUL (Pajhwok): Civil society organization “Afghanistan and Central Asia Association (ACAA)” on Saturday supported the salary equalization proposal of the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of the Parliament, asking the government to accept it.

The Wolesi Jirga has twice rejected the budget plan for 1400 fiscal year due to what lawmakers said removal of more than 1,100 provincial projects, increase in budget for emergency codes and imbalanced provincial allocations and no balance in government officers’ salaries. After rejection of the budget plan, the government accused Wolesi Jirga speaker and some lawmakers of taking hostage the plan for their own interests.

However, the Wolesi Jirga speaker rejected the allegation and said that equalization of salaries of government servants was a red line for the house to approve the budget. Some lawmakers had said that the salary of third grade employees in the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) was 13,000 afghanis while up to 100,000 afghanis salary was paid to officials in the Ministry of Finance and some other organizations.

A number of ACAA supporters today held a gathering in front of the parliament and said that their organization was created 20 years ago to advocate for the rights of the underprivileged in the country and the government should fulfill the demand of lawmakers about equalization of salaries. Ahmad Romal Karimi, head of the association, said that the aim of their gathering was to support the parliament’s position regarding equalization of salaries.

He said if the government avoided spending on unnecessary decorations, it would help equalize salaries of government servants. Mujtaba Haidarzada, another member of the association, said that the rights should be given to their owners and there should be no discrimination between government servants.

He asked the Wolesi Jirga not to give up to the government’s pressure and not approve the budget plan until the government agreed with equalization of salaries. The ACAA also issued a resolution letter that warned that they would expand their movements if salaries of government officials were not equalized.

“A small group is now pocketing the wealth of 99 percent of this nation under different excuses,” the letter read. They said a soldier who fought on frontlines and a teacher who spent a large part of his life teaching received very small salaries.