‘Ncube must pay civil servants USD salaries’

Mthuli Ncube

PRESSURE is mounting on Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to announce the payment of civil servants’ salaries in United States dollars in the 2023 national budget which he will announce today.

Ncube will present the 2023 national budget at the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden.

In past budgets, Ncube has been announcing cuts in government expenditure, saying employment costs have been gobbling an excess of 95% of the national cake.

But civil servants yesterday told NewsDay that in order for Ncube to cushion them against the ever-increasing cost of living, he needs to include measures that will see civil servants getting a minimum salary of US$540 effective next year.

Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Unions president Cecilia Alexander said: “To stalk inflation, Ncube must ensure that servants earn a minimum salary of US$540 in 2023. We are looking at a budget that will give employees a living wage, one that is reflective of the cost of living, and we want a budget that will bring currency and exchange rate stability. The minimum wage and poverty datum line are there, but we should understand the need for civil servants to retain their status in the community.”

Economist Vince Musewe said previous national budgets had not been exciting as the structure had remained stagnant and hardly change.

“The structure of the budget never really fundamentally changes. It seems there is a set template that we merely fill in the numbers and unfortunately, this does nothing for economic structural transformation. Creating new jobs and opportunities by boosting investments is fundamental. Preserving the value of our currency is critical. The provision of adequate resources for social services is critical. Closing leakages especially in the minerals sector is important. Whether we will get decisive attention on these key economic drivers is doubtful,” Musewe said.

Another economist Prosper Chitambara said: “We have not been investing adequately in these critical sectors such as public health, water and sanitation, social protection, and education. As a result donors have been coming on board to plug in the huge financing gaps in those sectors. In terms of taxation, we expect Ncube to do something to alleviate the huge tax burden. Zimbabwe is one of the most taxed economies in the world. You see this in the pricing of basic commodities like fuel, which is the highest in the region.”

A weekly report issued by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) on Tuesday stated: “The budget is presented at a time poverty is deepening, inequalities are widening between the rich and the poor; public debt is soaring, and the climate change crisis intensifies. If the 2023 budget is a people’s budget, it must: Bring tax relief measures to the overtaxed citizens including scrapping or reducing the regressive 2% intermediated money transfer tax, address the ballooning debt burden currently estimated at US$17 billion, put in place measures to maintain monetary and fiscal discipline which includes curbing resource leakages, corruption and illicit financial flows.”

Zimcodd said the 2023 budget should be pro-poor and promote access to water, health, education and raise budgetary allocations towards climate adaptation and green projects, as well as create decent jobs and revive critical infrastructure.

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