By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
A research paper published by Gambia Participates (GP) highlights that The Gambia Government’s Salary lags behind Sierra Leone and Nigeria by over 169% and 206% respectively at the lowest grade. The research paper which includes analytical comparisons of The Gambia’s current pay scale highlights that increasing “compensation can dissuade corruption”. One key recommendation highlights that “a 10% increase in employee compensation will lead to a decrease in corruption by 6%”.
GP is a pro-fiscal transparency organisation that gained National recognition with projects like “Follow the Money”, the Marble Elections App and winning two lawsuits against the Government one of which stopped the Fifth Legislature from receiving a D54 Million loan it appropriated itself back in 2020. This research paper forms part of GP’s Implementation of Anti-Corruption Treaties and Standards (IMPACTS) global project and focuses “on the link between salary increment and corruption level”.
Salaries Increased from D3.3 Billion to D4.1 Billion
According to the 2018 Labour Force Survey, out of a population of 2.3 Million, some 1.2 Million persons are of working age. From this total, 431,168 people are employed, which translates to approximately 34% of the working-age population. It’s not clear how many of these work for the civil service, however, it’s widely accepted that The Gambia Government is the main employer in the country.
Last year, the Government increased salaries by 30% across the board which increased personnel emoluments “by 22 per cent from D3.3 billion to D4.1 billion” when comparing the first nine months of 2021 and 2022. The statistics quoted above from the Finance Minister’s 2023 Budget Speech indicate that the Government is increasing salaries, but to what end?
A study by the International Monetary Fund notes that increasing wages without establishing effective controls and other appropriate measures is unlikely to impact corruption. Even after the 30% salary increase “the lowest classes can barely afford a sack of food with their monthly earnings”.
The report notes that “Grade 1 employees earn an average of D1,200 (US$24) per month, or D1,500 (US$30) with allowances, whereas a bag of rice costs roughly D1,600 (US$30)”.
Gambian Salaries Lag Behind Sierra Leone by Up to 169%
The comparison between The Gambia and Sierra Leone “is based on similarities of functions, titles, and requirements attached to the various salary grades”. In fact, the report notes that the World Bank ranks the two countries “in the same basket as least developing countries based on macroeconomic indicators such as GDP per capita, purchasing power parity, etc”.
The comparison found that while Grade 1 employees in The Gambia earn an average salary of D1,241, in Sierra Leone Grade 1 employees earn D2,106 more than their Gambian counterparts with a total average salary of D3,347. This means that Grade 1 in Sierra Leone earns over 169% more than their Gambian counterparts.
The results of the comparison show that the salary gap declines as the grades increase from 169% at Grade 1 to only 18% for Grade 12. This means that the gap is most pronounced for the lowest grades compared to the top.
Gambian Salaries Lag Behind Nigeria by Up to 206%
The research paper supported by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and authored by Ousman Jallow indicates that “Nigeria was considered one of the best within the West African Monetary Zone in the manner in which civil service remuneration is structured”. One main difference between The Gambia and Nigeria’s pay scales is that Nigeria has additional Grades from 13 to 17 while The Gambia stops at Grade 12.
After researchers concluded their comparative analysis between The Gambia and Nigeria, it can be seen that Grade 1 employees earn D2,561 less in The Gambia compared to their counterparts in Nigeria who earn D3,802 per month. The salary gap indicates that Grade 1 in Nigeria earns 206% more than their counterparts in The Gambia. Similar to Sierra Leone as the Grade increases from Grade 1 to 12 the difference in salaries declines from 206% for Grade 1 to 38% for Grade 12.
Salary Inequality and Corruption Perception
The study also looks at salary inequality between the lowest and highest grades in each country. Salary inequality demonstrates just how much the lowest grade earns in comparison to the highest grade. When the salaries between Grades 1 and 12 are compared for The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria it can be seen that salary inequality is highly pronounced in The Gambia compared to Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Statistics show that the salary inequality between Grades 1 and 12 stands at 651% in The Gambia. This means that the salary of Grade 12 in The Gambia is 651% more than Grade 1 employees. In comparison to Sierra Leone and Nigeria, the salary gap between Grade 1 and 12 are as low as 228% and 240% respectively.
This indicates that the salary gap between Grade 1 and Grade 12 employees in The Gambia is approximately three times as wide as the salary gap between Grade 1 and 12 in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. However, when Nigeria’s Grades 13 to 17 are considered the salary gap between Grades 1 and 17 increases exponentially to 1,225% in Nigeria.
To provide some qualitative analysis a questionnaire focusing on “corruption perception random questions — [was] sent to some 300 government workers from the Ministries of Finance, Land, Basic and Secondary Education, Trade and Employment; Personnel Management Office; Central Bank of The Gambia; The Gambia Police; etc”.
The responses collated indicate “that 88% of respondents are not satisfied with the current pay scale” compared to 12% who “are satisfied with the current government pay scale due to the positions and benefits they are entitled to ranging from fuel coupons, per diems, allowances, etc”.
Salary Gap Greatest at Lower Grades
The study highlights that the salary gaps are widest at the lower grades compared to the higher grades. In addition to this, the report highlights that “The Gambia’s Cabinet approved a new grading scale developed by the PMO in December 2021”, however, before the new grading scale came into effect on 1st July 2022 “the government announced a 30% salary increment for all government officials”.
To address the salary gaps between The Gambia and the two West African Countries, researchers recommend for The Gambia adopt “a pay scale with closer margins between the various salary grades”. In addition to this, the paper also calls on the Government to adopt the new PMO PayScale “and implement an automatic cost of living adjustment” approved by Cabinet back in 2021.