© TREASURY says employment costs have continued to dominate Zimbabwe’s public expenditure despite promises of strict adherence to austerity measures and reducing public services wage bill.
Following a civil service pay rise in April, government recently announced that it will award public servants another pay increase in June as prices of basic commodities continue to skyrocket, eroding the purchasing power of disposable incomes.
“Employment costs at 68,4 percent of the total expenditures continue to dominate the expenditures,” Finance minister Mthuli Ncube told Parliament last week. “However, the increase in employment costs to total expenditure in 2019 is largely due to the cushioning allowance and pension reviews, filling of critical posts in the education and health sectors as well as the effect of the introduction of exchange rate on the salaries for staff at foreign missions from February 2019,” he said.
The minister said the major expenditures between January and March “were on employment costs at RTGS$1,015 billion” against a target of RTGS$986 million. Total expenditure for the period was RTGS$1,5 billion.
And in his restated budget, the minister also increased allocation to the wage bill by RTGS$600 million, from RTGS$4,05 billion to RTGS$4,65 billion. Official data shows that over the past decade the country’s wage bill has increased by 10-fold.
The actual size of the country’s civil service remains a mystery even though the last official estimates put it at about 600 000.
A 2015 audit of the civil service revealed that millions of dollars were being spent on salaries to ghost and idle workers.
Ncube has, however, talked up plans of trimming the civil service, proposing biometric registration of the entire public sector, retirement of the old as well as to getting rid of youth officers among other measures. However, some have said the anticipated savings will most likely be offset by government’s plans to hire additional stuff.
The government recently announced plans to hire 3 000 more primary and secondary school teachers. Previous attempts to get rid of the youth officers and bonuses for the civil service by former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa were blocked by former president Robert Mugabe.