Angola boosts police wages to help curb widespread graft

by Reuters
Friday, 28 February 2014 17:14 GMT

In this 2010 file photo, Angolan police officers stand guard outside Ombaka Stadium before an African Nations Cup semi-final soccer match between Egypt and Algeria in Benguela REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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LUANDA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Angola has doubled the wages it pays to low-ranking police officers and boosted those of mid-level officers by up to 75 percent in a bid to tackle widespread corruption, a police spokesman said on Friday.

"Ideas like the wage increase and other incentives are designed to help combat corruption, which unfortunately is still present in our corporation," spokesman Aristofanes dos Santos told Reuters.

Angola has posted rapid economic growth since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002, thanks to its position as Africa's second-biggest oil producer, but has struggled to shake off a reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Transparency International ranks Angola at 153rd out of 177 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979, has often vowed to fight corruption but critics say improvements on the ground have been scarce.

Angolans often complain about having to pay "gasosas", the colloquial term for bribes, to police, especially on the road and under threat of hefty fines and confiscation of licences.

"Other than personnel assigned to elite units, police were poorly paid, and the practice of supplementing income through extortion of civilians was widespread," the U.S. State Department said about Angola in its 2013 Human Rights report published on Thursday.

Police spokesman Dos Santos said the salary increases will benefit 55,000 officers in a force of 96,000 in which wage disparities were seen as too big.

The lowest salaries, which stand at 32,000 kwanzas per month (around $327), will be among those doubled from April.

"Besides the wage raise, we also have in the works a new set of police regulations which will be much tougher in terms of discipline. Cases like corruption will result in immediate dismissal, without the right to an appeal," he said.

(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas)

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