The APEX Council, an umbrella body that represents all civil servant unions in the country, has torn into Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s mid-term fiscal policy statement which it said spelt out the government’s intention to further impoverish hard-pressed employees.
APEX Council chairperson Richard Gundani said civil servants were disappointed that the statement had a glaring omission on the welfare of government employees. He said the statement proved the government was “taking with the left hand the few dollars it gave with the right”.
The statement issued by Chinamasa early this month saw increased taxation on airtime tariffs, increased duty on cheap imported vehicles and hiking of fuel taxes.
Gundani said the increases were set to further erode workers’ disposable incomes and disadvantage the poor.
“These increases can only unleash a spiral of price increases and artificial shortages of goods that will see the attainment of PDL (poverty datum line)-linked salaries for civil servants as a pie in the sky,” he said and urged the government to revise the statement to reflect on the plight of over–taxed workers.
He said it was disappointing that senior government officials recently had substantial salary increases. That needed to be cascaded down to the rest of the civil service.
Chinamasa on Tuesday said the government wage bill was embarrassing and unsustainable as over 75% of national revenue was gobbled by salaries of the over 250 000–strong civil service.
This has left little money to pay debts and to rebuild crumbling public infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals.
“I am embarrassed that our wage bill is some 76% of whatever revenue we receive. It’s not good, it’s not sustainable,” Chinamasa said.
Civil servants had a paltry 14% salary increment early this year.
The government has been on a collision course with the International Monetary Fund over its wage bill which is believed to be unsustainable.