For the second year in a row, the National Personnel Authority has recommended withholding a pay raise for employees of the central government in a belt-tightening move reflecting the severity of the economic downturn.

The authority, which oversees working conditions for national government employees, said the recommendation takes into account the economic slowdown, which has narrowed the pay gap between the private and public sectors to a record low 0.08 percent, or just 313 yen a month.

In an annual recommendation on wages submitted to the Diet and the Cabinet on Wednesday, the personnel authority also proposed that the government pay the difference in a lump sum, instead of the traditional method of making up the difference in the monthly pay scale.

Tadayoshi Nakajima, president of the government agency, acknowledged the pay recommendation is “severe” and urged bureaucrats to accept the decision “conscious of their mission as servants of the public.”

“I hope all public servants will live up to the expectations and demands of their public duty,” Nakajima said.

The personnel authority proposed that end-of-year allowances, equivalent to bonus payments at private companies, be set at the equivalent of 4.7 months of annual pay, down 0.05 month from the previous year.

If enacted, the recommendation means civil servants would earn an annual income averaging 6,376,000 yen at the age of 40.7 years, down 16,000 yen from the previous year and a decrease for the third consecutive year.

The recommendation, however, does not take seniority-based pay raises into account. If seniority-based pay raises are added, about 90 percent of government employees, excluding those over 55, are expected to receive more pay.

According to the Finance Ministry, if the recommendations are carried out as planned, the government would save 21 billion yen in the 13.7 trillion yen budget for state personnel costs for this fiscal year.

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