Myanmar junta hikes salaries ahead of election

Myanmar junta hikes salaries ahead of electionYangon, Jan 3 - Myanmar's junta raised the salaries of civil servants and military staff Jan 1, ahead of a general election planned this year, official sources confirmed Sunday.

"We have obtained information for the raise of our salaries from Nay Pyi Taw (the military's capital) and I think we can draw the new salary at the end of January," a senior official who requested anonymity told DPA.

For most civil servants, special increments of 20,000 kyats (about $20) will be added to their monthly salaries.

"The increment is not included for the ranks of deputy director general or above who get salary about 160,000 kyats (about $160) per month," the source said.

The average monthly salary for low-ranking civil servants was previously 35,000 kyats ($35), but under the new salary scale will be increased to 55,000 kyats, a 57 percent jump.

Salaries of military staff have been increased at an increment slightly higher than that of civil servants, but details were not available.

The salary rises are expected to lead to inflation, observers said.

For instance, Myanmar Post and Telecommunication Enterprise has already doubled the call charge of mobile phones from 25 kyats to 50 kyats per minute, effective Jan 1.

Myanmar has been under military dictatorship since 1962. The ruling junta, widely condemned for its poor human rights record and refusal to release more than 2,000 political prisoners including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has announced plans to hold a general election some time in 2010. (dpa)