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By Jowie C. Aquino

KOROR, Palau (June 18, 2002 - Palau Horizon/Marianas Variety)---President Tommy Remengesau’s administration has denied reports that attributed the government’s worsening cash-flow problem to the executive branch’s hiring practices.

According to the administration, the figures cited by the Senate Ways and Means Committee are "salary promotional increments" and not for new hires.

The committee claimed that there were 122 new employees based on the recent payroll.

But Administration Minister Elbuchel Sadang said the bulk of these employees work for the state governments, and their salaries are handled by the National Treasury under arrangements between the states and the Treasury. They are not employees of the executive branch, Sadang said.

The Senate panel earlier criticized the administration for attributing its cash-flow problems to the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the reductions made by the Olbiil Era Kelulau—Palau’s bicameral legislature—on tobacco and liquor taxes.

The committee said the administration’s "continuous hiring negates efforts to streamline the government and save government funds."

The committee said the annual salary base for government employees reached $26 million as of May this year compared to $24.6 million in Feb. 2001.

However, according to the administration, the executive branch has reduced some 15 positions. In contrast, the OEK added nine; the judiciary, three; and the state governments, 92.

The Ministry of Administration also noted that a lot of changes in job titles occurred which the computers registered as "newly hired personnel."

Remengesau said the administration will likely continue hiring new employees for critical areas such as public education, public health and public safety. He said hiring will also continue in federally funded areas since the money will come from the U.S. government.

Moreover, Remengesau said the government will replace government retirees.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

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