Government has ruled out a salary review for civil servants in January amid reports that unions are pressing for another pay rise.
Finance minister Tendai Biti and Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart said Treasury could not afford another increment six months after government was forced to use diamond revenues to calm down restive civil servants with a modest pay rise.
Biti said civil servants were being paid 67 cents for each dollar in government revenues every month and another increment would severely cripple the unity government.
The minister, who presents the 2012 National Budget on Thursday, stressed that the cost of labour in the country was not proportional to the size of the economy.
“Civil servants, we hear your concerns, but right now without an increase next year we are spending 67 cents of a dollar on government salaries and we have not had the energy to deal with ghost workers perhaps we could have saved money,” Biti told a recent budget consultative meeting.
“To me, there is a problem when you spend 67 cents on 235 000 people and 33 cents on 13 million.”
Coltart said government was trying to improve the working conditions of professionals particularly teachers, but owing to the limited fiscal space it was highly unlikely that there would be a salary review in January.
“We will only see an increment being awarded as our economy begins to perform and revenue inflows to government improve,” Coltart said on the sidelines of a cricket match on Monday.
The minister said while teachers’ incentives had caused problems, they would not be scrapped until such a time government was able to pay its workers a decent wage.
“I recognise that incentives are a problem and need to be dispensed with, but that can only happen once we know teachers have a stable salary that can sustain them,” Coltart said.