Deputy prime minister Mark Brown said this was in line with government’s commitment to invest in the capabilities of its agencies.
In 2017-18, the government applied its first remuneration increase to public servants by raising each staff member from the salary they were receiving to the next step in their allocated pay band, Brown said.
The finance minister added they will now undertake its second government wide salary adjustment incrementally over the medium-term.
“The timing for each agency is based on historical median salaries of the agency and the fiscal and economic impact of the adjustments. An analysis undertaken recently has shown that public sector salaries are significantly lower than private sector salaries for familiar roles,” Brown said.
“This salary adjustment will ensure that workers are earning around 50 per cent of their private sector equivalent. This will affect 58.24 per cent of the total working population in the Cook Islands which is made up of public servants – 954 female workers and 996 male workers.”
Brown said this salary adjustment would have a huge benefit to the household income as it increases families’ abilities to meet the cost of living in the Cook Islands.
He said the law and order sector together with a few of the smaller agencies will be fortunate to commence this process with a majority of the adjustments taking place in 2020/21.
“With the government roles expanding, it is only fair that our people are remunerated adequately to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our government services whilst maintaining our key assets.”
Along with the salary adjustment for government workers, Brown said they would also legislate the increase in minimum wage from $7.25 to $7.60 an hour.
Under the Employment Relations Act 2012, the minister responsible for administering the Act, Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa, has a legal obligation to review the level of the minimum wage by March every year.
“From the review undertaken this year, the government has supported an increase to our minimum wage for the next two years. Minimum Wage will increase from $7.25 to $7.60 an hour come July 1, 2019, and a further increase will be applied on July 1, 2020 taking the minimum wage to $8 an hour,” Brown said.
“The Cook Islands is still one of the few Pacific countries that has a universal minimum wage with no exemptions. This universal wage is higher than almost all Pacific Island nations.
“This increase will have vast financial benefits to our people in the Pa Enua and to the few others who are currently being paid minimum wage.”
Brown said the Budget for this coming financial year “is going to be a very, very good Budget for the country and the people.”