The Eyewash Of Doctors’ Salary Increased By 35000 Rupees

By Murali Vallipuranathan –

Dr. Murali Vallipuranathan

The purpose of this article is to investigate the reality regarding the fact that after the announcement that the salary of doctors in the government service has been increased by 35000 rupees, other health sector trade unions were engaged in a 2-day boycott demanding an increase of 35000 rupees and have now announced that they will resume trade union activity from the 16th January 2024.

While the political leaders who came to power after the economic collapse due to corruption imposed increased taxes on government employees earning more than 100,000 rupees per month in the name of IMF recommendation, the salary of government doctors was deducted on average more than 35,000 rupees as tax. Doctors in Sri Lanka, who are poorly paid compared to other countries, are dissatisfied with the salary cut and have started leaving the country in thousands.

Consequently several hospitals have become inactive, the distraught rulers have decided to pay 35,000 rupees to bring the salary of the doctors to the level that existed before the recent taxation. Actually this is not a salary increase.

For example, a medical specialist’s salary was reduced by Rs 40,000 due to tax. Now the 35000 rupees increase in income will lead to an increase in the tax rate on gross salary. So even if the actual increase is Rs.25 000 he will still get Rs.15000 less than before the tax.

Meanwhile, medical laboratory technologists (MLT) and other union members who are on non-taxable salary are getting their appointments after getting 3 passes in advanced level and completing a course conducted by the Ministry of Health not exceeding 1 or 2 years with a monthly stipend.

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How is it fair for these mid-level health workers who call themselves health sector specialists to ask for the same salary increase from their non-taxable salary in par with medical officers who studied hard and scored highest marks in A/L and completed 5 years of medical college basic studies without any monthly allowances and one year internship to get their appointments?

And at a time when the country is facing a disaster due to floods and dengue outbreak, is it appropriate and ethical for health workers to fight such unjust demands?

Today’s rising cost of living has justified increasing salaries for all employees. But the reduction in public expenditure recommended by the International Monetary Fund should have been achieved by reducing defense expenditure as in other developing economies.But it is a mistake to set aside roughly 50% of the expenditure on defense and increase the tax on civil servants to fix it.

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It is worth noting that even the trade unions asking for salary hikes in par with doctors, have not expressed their demand to reduce the cost of defense.

Politicians who exhort civil servants to cut costs and be frugal continue to engage in corruption and increase costs. Even a few days ago, Mahinda’s crew indulged in tax-payer-funded cruises and sprees.

No foreign countries have invaded Sri Lanka to keep the rulers’ defense spending high.There is no need for superpowers to invade Sri Lanka either. Because the rulers are ready to cooperate with all businesses that can exploit the people of Sri Lanka and give income to the superpowers.

Even so, the answer to the question of why there is an increased security expenditure can be found through the armed forces that are concentrated in the areas where Tamils live the most. The removal of the armed forces can only be achieved by honestly acknowledging the wrongs of the past, providing relief to the victims, creating reconciliation between the races and providing a dignified solution within a united Sri Lanka.

In any case, all government sector trade unions need to realize that only by cutting defense spending and ridding the country of corrupt politicians, they can get a pay raise higher than the eye-wash salary increase of the doctors. A concerted effort by all trade unions to make that happen is the only viable way to help all Sri Lankans get their pay rise and bring the country out of economic recession permanently.

*Disclaimer: Author Dr. Murali Vallipuranathan is a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Jaffna and Colombo, a Senior Medical Specialist of the Ministry of Health and a Council Member of the Sri Lanka Medical Association. He claims the opinion expressed in this article with social responsibility aims to improve the public awareness, promote good governance, reconciliation and in no way reflects his official positions.

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