Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Govt may have room for spending on civil servants' salaries - Magande
By Gift Chanda
Wed 18 Sep. 2013, 14:01 CAT

THE government may still have spending room to implement new civil servants' salaries despite a widening budget deficit, says former finance minister Ng'andu Magande.

Salaries for civil servants are this month expected to be increased by the government amid fears of a widening national budget deficit.

Magande, who is also National Movement for Progress president, said it is only prudent that the government keeps its promise to implement the new salaries.

"One has to be magnanimous to keep one's promise. They the government negotiated these salaries way back in March and for the civil servants to be able to give them space of six months, it is just fair that they keep their promise," he said in an interview.

On fears that the government may not have funds to go ahead with the plan, Magande said it was unclear the government may not have capacity to implement the new salaries.

Ministry of Finance data shows that the country's budget deficit currently stands at five per cent of GDP, beyond a 4.3 per cent target.

"Perhaps the government might have looked at the figures and they know that most of the recurrent expenditures which resulted into the budget deficit in the first and second quarter of the year will not be repeated in the coming quarters," said Magande. "If that is the case, they may have room for spending on salaries the money that is coming in as revenue."

Chief government spokesperson Mwansa Kapeya over the weekend reaffirmed the government's resolve to implement the new salaries.

The government has increased salaries for civil servants with some getting as high as 200 per cent hikes effective this month.

The windfall follows the successful conclusion of negotiations between the government and the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (CSAWUZ).

Other benefits in the 2013 collective bargaining include the introduction of the health personnel shift allowance at 15 per cent of basic salaries for nurses and other paramedics.

The commuted night-duty allowance has been pegged at seven per cent while the transport and housing allowances have been maintained at the existing rates of 10 and 20 per cent of basic salaries respectively.

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