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Niger Civil Servants Get First Pay Raise in 25 Years


Government workers in Niger are due to receive their first pay raise in 25 years. But some analysts and civil servants say the 10% increase does not keep up with the country's skyrocketing cost of living.

The new agreement signed between Niger's government and labor unions will now put the daily wage of the lowest ranking civil servant at just over $3 a day. The document, in which the government also promises to pay salaries in arrears, is the result of several months of negotiations between Niger's government and unions.

But many in the capital Niamey, though happy to see the wage increase, remain skeptical.

One government employee says the wage increase would be a good thing, but he will not believe it until he sees it in the bank.

A woman says the 10 % increase is not enough. She says the government could have done more. The increase is not enough, she says, to keep up with Niger's rising cost of living.

A fall in the price of uranium, one of Niger's few exportable commodities, and a disastrous harvest have exacerbated the country's economic problems.

A 1994 devaluation of the regional currency, known locally as the CFA franc, sent the prices of essential goods soaring.

Social commentator Ousmane Toudou says the devaluation of the CFA franc meant that salaries were effectively cut in half. He says, many at the time had expected the government to raise salaries to make up for the loss, but that did not happen.

A negotiator for the Democratic Federation of Nigerien Workers, Idi Moutari, says his union had wanted more and made their dissatisfaction clear to the government.

Niger ranks among the world's poorest countries, according to the U.N. Human Development index. Eight out of 10 people live on less than $2 a day.

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