The Sunday News
Gabriel Masvora, News Editor
GOVERNMENT employees and pensioners received a cumulative $80 billion as salaries and other benefits in the first-half of the year as more benefits and adjustments are set to be effected before the end of the year.
Since January, the Government has been making regular salary adjustments to its employees while pension payouts have also been adjusted to cushion pensioners.
Last month, civil servants received a salary increase of between 45 and 50 percent. The increase came after, in April, the Government had made another increase of 25 percent in addition to a host of non-monetary benefits.
The National Social Security Authority (Nssa) also with effect from 1 July, reviewed monthly pension payouts to $3 000 as it rolled out plans to increase the funds to the equivalent of US$60 — about $4 900 at the official exchange rate — by year-end. In his 2021 mid-term term Budget and Economic Review presented to Parliament on Thursday last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said payment of salaries to Government employees since the year started has topped $80 billion.
“The 2021 National Budget provided $172.6 billion for compensation of employees inclusive of pensions premised on an average cost of living review of 70 percent from the 2020 levels. Cumulative expenditure for the first half amounted to $80 billion against a cumulative target of $73,8 billion,” he said.
Prof Ncube said compensation of employees at 40 percent of total expenditure constituted the largest share of the total expenditure.
“The over expenditure of $6,2 billion is on account of hiring of additional personnel for critical posts in the education sector following recruitment of 3 000 teachers in January and filling of the already approved 4 713 health sector posts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These expenditures were also on account of cost of living adjustments effected in February and April 2021.”
More good times rolling
Yesterday, Public Service, Labour and Social Service Minister Professor Paul Mavima told Sunday News that good times were rolling for civil servants. He said another meeting has been planned between civil servants and their employer and among many other issues that will be discussed would be another salary adjustment.
“Remember we just awarded them about 50 percent last month but as Government out thrust is always to make our employees happy and open for discussions. We are just finalising the dates but it will be very soon.
The fact that we gave them an increase last month does not mean we have closed books and will not listen to them. We want a cordial working relationship.”
However, he said Government was looking beyond the salary increase only.
“On the agenda we are not going to discuss salaries only. It is one of the items of course but we are going to talk about is other non-monetary benefits to see how we can incentivise our workers beyond just the salary.”
Buying power on the increase
The continued adjustment of salaries for civil servants comes at a huge boost as the country is also winning its war against inflation. Inflation is described as the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising over a period of time.
Last week, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency announced that for the first time in three years, Zimbabwe’s inflation slowed to double digits in July. The July figure stood at 56,37 percent from a year earlier, compared with 106,6 percent in June.
The Government is aiming to have reduced inflation to just around 25 percent by the end of year. Economists said the reduction in inflation coupled with a “happy” civil service was the best tonic for economic revival.
“The issue sometimes is not about constant salary adjustments but the buying power of the money at hand. As inflation goes down you will discover that in the long run we do not have to be worried about increasing salaries regularly by huge margins but maintaining equilibrium where we give our workers money which is able to sustain them,” noted an economist with a local financial institution.
To meet salary and other funding requirements, Government has also improved it revenue collection. According to Prof Ncube cumulative revenue collections for the period January to June 2021 amounted to $198.2 billion against a projection of 182.1 billion, resulting in a positive variance of $16 billion or 8.8 percent.
“Total revenue collections also include net cumulative foreign currency revenue collections of US$698.5 million (against a target ofUS$660 million),” he said.