QCOSTARICA – “It is difficult to recruit people,” were the words by president Rodrigo Chaves prior to taking office on May 8 and again on Wednesday when announcing a pay hike for ministers and deputy ministers, from ¢1.3 million to ¢2.6 million colones monthly.
“What I am doing is rectifying the fact that in the last 12 years base salaries have been frozen. It does not seem appropriate to me and I think that to the majority it should be clear that it is not worth it for a hierarch who has administrative and legal responsibilities to earn 30% of what his subordinates earn,” said Chaves.
Recruiting people for high level government positions has been difficult. “These are unsustainable salaries compared to the market,” Chave said during a press conference after a cabinet (Governing Council) session.
Base salaries of the ministers have been frozen at ¢1,357,000 monthly and ¢1,302,650 monthly for deputy ministers, since the administration of Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) when the decision was made halfway through her term.
The measure was maintained by her successors, Luis Guillermo Solís (2014-2018) and Carlos Alvarado (2018-2022), who both signed respective executive decrees to extend the salary freeze.
The salary adjustment, retroactive to June 1, will take effect once the decree is published in the official government newsletter, La Gaceta.
The President, in his announcement and backed up by his Ministro de Hacienda (Minister of Finance), Nogui Acosta, stressed that the salary hike will not mean an increase in government spending, rather it will be compensated with reductions in the payroll of the corresponding ministries.
Acosta explained that there is a remnant of resources because of vacancies not filled, for example, and other reasons that an established salary was not paid out (spent). “There is enough space to budget there,” said the Finance Minister, adding that an extraordinary budget is not needed to complete the resources, but only a reclassification in the remuneration item.
“We comply with all the requirements of the law and I think we are doing the right thing. That is not going to trigger the fiscal deficit,” added Chaves.