Government Faces Backlash After Notice of ‘Low’ Subsidy Raise for Civil Servants

Government Faces Backlash After Notice of ‘Low’ Subsidy Raise for Civil Servants
FILE: woman holding LAK cash (photo: Freepik)

The Lao government announced an increase in extra monthly subsidy by LAK 150,000 (USD 7.15)  for civil servants, including soldiers, police officers, retired employees, and disabled individuals. The notice, released on 15 March, swiftly sparked backlash, with many deeming the increase to be exceedingly negligible.

The change is effective immediately. However, It is worth noting that the increase would apply only to civil servants whose salary is below LAK 1.7 million (USD 80.98)

Shortly after publication, the announcement prompted a flood of sarcastic comments from numerous social media users, with many indirectly suggesting that the additional money is insignificant considering the current economic situation.

“Maybe this would mean something if our base salary was as high as LAK 5 million,” said a Facebook user.

“Pfft! How low! They should raise it to at least a million for this to actually benefit someone,” added another.

The minimum wage in Laos is currently set at LAK 1.6 million (USD 76.22) per month, which is lower than neighboring Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.  

Thailand’s minimum daily wages range from THB 300-400 (USD 8.23 – 10.97) and monthly wages for bachelor’s degree holders and civil servants start at THB 25,000 (USD 685.83). Vietnam’s minimum salary depends on the region, ranging from VND 3.4 million to 4.9 million (USD 139.13 – 197.89).

Meanwhile, in Cambodia, starting January this year, probationary workers are subject to a base salary of up to USD 198 – 202 per month while regular employees could earn as high as USD 200 – 204.

According to a report from the Lao Statistics Bureau, Laos is currently facing severe economic challenges, with inflation reaching 25.35 percent in February. This increase is primarily due to higher demand during festivities, leading to higher prices for food and alcoholic drinks. Despite the kip’s appreciation against the dollar and baht, market traders have not adjusted their prices accordingly.

To tackle these hurdles, the government preliminarily approved draft laws and decrees to address economic challenges. These include laws on tourism decentralization, measures to counter money laundering, and the establishment of dry ports.