A PARLIAMENTARY committee has demanded that the government increase civil servants’ salaries to figures above the poverty datum line in the 2022 National Budget set to be presented by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, pictured, next month.
This comes as restive civil servants have since 2018 been demanding salary adjustments citing the erosion of their incomes owing to the prevailing harsh economic environment in the country.
Parliamentarians, who attended a three-day pre-budget seminar, which ended in Victoria Falls yesterday, called on Ncube to take into consideration the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe.
“This, coupled with the current economic environment characterised by price instability, depreciation of our local currency and multiple currency pricing regimes has exacerbated poverty levels in the country to about 49 percent.
“Consequently, salaries of the civil service have been eroded, with the majority earning below the poverty datum line.
“We therefore recommend the increment of salaries of the civil service workers to well above the poverty datum line,” the parliamentary portfolio committee on Public Service said in recommendations to the Treasury.
The committee also recommended that Ncube should focus on growing the country’s revenue base “so as to offer some relief to long-suffering government workers, for example tapping into taxing the informal sector”.
“The minister should address inconsistencies in the current economic environment — fuel and rentals charged in US$ against Zimbabwe dollar salaries.
“The US$50 per week foreign currency facility being disbursed through the bureaux de change should be made available through the mainstream banking sector to improve access by all and save productive time lost when workers queue at the bureaux de change.
“Additionally, the minister should consider introducing mobile bureaux de change to cater for rural areas,” the committee further said.
While it applauded the housing projects currently underway for nurses and doctors, the committee also recommended that the facility be extended to other workers in the civil service as a matter of urgency.
Regarding persons with disabilities, the committee said the 2022 national budget should allocate more funding towards supporting social welfare programmes targeting the vulnerable groups.
“We applaud the launch of the national disability policy in June this year however, there is a need for allocation of financial resources to operationalise the policy, including translation of the policy into other languages such as braille and sign language.
“The committee is concerned on why it is taking so long for the ministry to submit a Bill to amend the Disabled Persons Act to Parliament. Additionally, the creation of an electronic database of persons with disabilities by the ministry of Public Service in order to inform policy making is a key issue of concern which should be addressed through the national budget,” the committee further said.