Friday, October 25, 2013

Magande warns of price hikes
By Henry Sinyangwe
Thu 03 Oct. 2013, 14:01 CAT

ZAMBIANS should brace themselves for major hikes in prices of goods following wage increments in the public sector, says National Movement for Progress president Ng'andu Magande.

And Magande, who is also former finance minister, says he hopes President Michael Sata sorts out the PF wrangles as they are 'consuming' Zambia.

He said there would be major inflationary pressures, as observed by the Bank of Zambia, because most Zambians were also not employed.

"We expect some inflationary pressures because a lot of Zambians are not employed and those who are employed are in the civil service, so they are getting more money and they will be spending it in the same shops that the other people go to. So when that happens, it means the businessmen will increase the prices of goods. To them, they are seeing these people who are spending money, but they don't realise that these are very few people and it's not everybody," Magande said.

He said the move was suicidal on the part of the government.

"Advising when someone has already jumped 10 floors and has committed suicide is not very useful because when the government was negotiating, they did not widely consult. There is nothing that the consumer will do because the government negotiated with the civil servants, and they agreed. They didn't at any time ask to say 'what do you think?'. If they had asked, we would have said 'no, you request the civil servants that instead of getting this increment at one go perhaps let them stagger them over some months or so'," Magande said.

He said it would be difficult to bring the prices down once they shoot up.

"And once prices go up, it's very difficult to bring them down, so you find that the citizens will start feeling the high cost of living, and that is what governments are there to do, to control the cost of living for all the citizens," Magande said.

He said the unemployed and the lowly paid would be most affected by the wage increase for civil servants.

"The unemployed and those who are lowly paid. I don't know why they are saying the public service is not well paid. Against whom are they comparing? If you take the private sector and there is some small bank which just came into Zambia with 10 workers and they pay those 10 workers K10,000 each, you can't say 'because these people are getting K10,000, therefore they are better paid than the civil servants and I will increase for civil servant'; the civil servants are nearly 260,000. So if you increase for civil servants in competition with 10 people, you know what that will...," Magande said.

He said addressing issues affecting the PF and the nation would be a nice way of President Michael Sata celebrating his anniversary as he swore in his Cabinet in October.

"I am waiting for the President to arrive so that he can quench this fire going on because apart from consuming the PF, it is consuming Zambia…Even as I go to some of these functions, you see people singing the national anthem and the voices are low, but when it is PF they are able to go on a public road and close it shouting 'PF'," said Magande.

"No, this country is for all Zambians and once you are in government, you look after all citizens."

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