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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Congolese shock at 'fat cat' pay
Congolese man selling peanuts in the street
Many Congolese remain desperately poor
There has been widespread shock in the Democratic Republic of Congo after an audit revealed that managers of state companies earn up to $25,000 a month.

The government-commissioned audit has not officially been published but has been leaked to the local press.

A BBC correspondent in the capital, Kinshasa, says that most workers earn about $50 a month and many have not been paid for up to three years.

Mineral-rich DR Congo is emerging from years of war and decades of misrule.

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On Monday, the foreign minister of Belgium, the former colonial power, said that he doubted whether DR Congo's political class were capable of ending corruption and organising elections due next year.

Holiday allowance

The head of the government audit office, Babi Mulumba, was asked to investigate the management of some 20 of DR Congo's biggest state-owned companies.

He found that the head of the state oil-importing company, Cohydro, received a $68,000 holiday allowance.

This was on top of monthly wages of $17,000.

The government always asks for donor aid but in fact there is money in this country
Kinshasa resident
His counterpart at the diamond valuing company CEEC is paid $25,000 a month, the report said.

He also found that the state transport company had paid $7m to repair five pre-independence locomotives.

Three brand-new ones could have been purchased for the same amount.

The state electricity and water companies did not keep accounts of the fees they had been paid by their customers, the audit said.

Job-share

"It's unacceptable that most people earn $25 and the top manager gets $25,000. It's immoral," one man told the BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa.

"The government always asks for donor aid but in fact there is money in this country," said another man.

Our correspondent says that this report has been leaked just as the former rebels are demanding that jobs in state-owned companies be divided along the same political lines as in the power-sharing government.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht launched his attack on DR Congo's political class after meeting senior officials, including former rebels, during a week-long visit.

"I have met a lot of people and I wonder if they are the people to transform this country into a democracy and seriously manage it... There needs to be an end to corruption," he said.




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