871 ACCEPT TONGA GOVERNMENT RETIREMENT OFFER

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 27) – The Tonga government yesterday started distributing letters outlining its redundancy [retirement] offer to 871 civil servants who are interested in [taking part] in a voluntary 28 million paanga [US$13.7 million] Redundancy Program.

[PIR editor’s note: Tongan government information service Tonga Now reports that 650 employees have so far accepted the offer.]

The Minister of Finance told parliament last Tuesday that government would finance a 34 million paanga [US$16.6 million] redundancy and back pay package with a 10 million paanga [US$4.9 million] loan from the Asian Development Bank, and the sale of its 40 percent shares with the Westpac Bank of Tonga which will bring in 34 million paanga [US$16.6 million].

Paula Ma’u, the Deputy Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, said that the letter outlined the government's offer, and there were also financial incentives to accept the offer and respond within five days. Civil servants who responded promptly could get their redundancy payment plus a bonus, even before the end of this financial year on Friday June 30.

Initially, government anticipated that 1,000 civil servants would accept its Voluntary Redundancy Program, but Paula said that by yesterday, 871 had shown an interest. He said that Friday was the final day and he did not think that the 1,000 target would be achieved, but government had already earmarked 28 million paanga [US$13.7 million] for the program.

The Minister of Finance, Hon. Siosiua 'Utoikamannu, told Parliament, Tuesday last week that a quick response by a public servant to the government offer, within five days would be rewarded with 1,500 paanga [US$735].

Paula Ma'u said that with regards to the number of Civil Servants who were interested in the redundancy program, the top two ministries were the Ministry of Education with over 100 applicants, followed by the Ministry of Works with about 60 applicants.

June 29, 2006

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to 

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