Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has appealed to civil servants to be patient after the umbrella body for government employees unions voiced disappointment over the lack of salary increases in the national budget.

“The nation’s debt has reached almost RM1 trillion with a deficit of 5.6 per cent and if we increase salaries, the deficit will increase to 6.5 per cent.

“If we increase salaries, the budget deficit may rise to 6.5%,” he said, adding this will deter investors as it would give the impression the government lacked the political will to properly manage the country.

“So be patient for a while,” he told reporters after an event.

Anwar said, in principle, he agreed with demands to increase civil servants’ salaries.

However, civil servants must also consider the state of the country’s finances and the welfare of the people, he said.

He added the country’s debts had risen to RM1.5 trillion and that it had a high budget deficit.

Anwar said the government’s focus right now is on assisting the hardcore poor who are struggling to survive, including fishermen, rubber tappers, and farmers.

“If we look at it from that point of view, we would understand,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at the ceremony to deliver the mandate, Anwar said the country was facing a fiscal deficit of 5.6 per cent and a total debt of about RM1.5 trillion, which needed to be given priority in order to ensure the country’s prosperity, especially from an economic point of view.

“These few months, when our return of two billion, three billion, eight billion (ringgit) entered the country’s coffers, not even one sen leaked, if it leaks you all know the things I will do.

“If the country’s coffers are sufficient, civil servants can trust me that I will give priority to your fate… because your service and dedication deserve better salaries and wages,” he said.

As such, he called on all civil servants to practice integrity and good governance to ensure the country can be managed perfectly, in addition to reviving the country’s finances immediately.

“All of you do your work well because there is so much more that we have not resolved, for example, the issue of poverty, the Pan Borneo Highway… we will solve it for our people immediately,” he said.

On Friday, Cuepacs president Adnan Mat said the budget did not contain any commitment to raise civil servant salaries to help them cope with the increase in the cost of living.

Adnan said civil servants are now hoping for a better wage system as it has not been revised since November 2002 and it is not acceptable given the current economic situation.

On Friday, Anwar tabled Budget 2023, announcing an allocation of RM388.1 billion.

Among the goodies that were announced for civil servants include early redemption of cash in lieu of accumulated leave (GCR) of up to 50% with a maximum of 90 days, as well as the provision of Aidilfitri special financial assistance of RM700 to all civil servants Grade 56 and below, including those on contract.

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