|Biti shoots down Govt pay rise|
|Tuesday, 22 March 2011 00:00|
FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti shot down a propo-sed salary increment and improved housing and transport allowances for civil servants, a House of Assembly Portfolio Committee heard yesterday.
Public Service Commission chairperson Dr Mari-yawanda Nzuwah said this while giving oral evidence before the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Services in Harare.
The committee, chaired by Mazowe South MP Cde Margaret Zinyemba (Zanu-PF), had called the PSC to appraise itself on its mandate and responsibilities.
Dr Nzuwah said they had submitted a proposal to Treasury of a basic minimum monthly salary of US$300.
The PSC - said Dr Nzuwah - had recommended a minimum salary of between US$300 and US$315 against civil servants' demands of US$500, considering the present fiscal pressures.
He said there was no pension fund for civil servants and Minister Biti used taxes to pay pensioners, something that had resulted in negligible payouts.
Said Dr Nzuwah: "You (Minister Biti) are not able to help us, but you are quick to blame us."
He said Treasury was paying the "untenable" sums of US$24 and US$16 for civil servants' hou-sing and transport allowances.
"When the concept of paying (US dollar) salaries was introduced, we went to Government and said we have an obligation to pay housing and transport allowances.
"It was US$7 and this year we tried to raise it, but Treasury came with a knife and slashed it and it is now US$24.
"So how do you go to work?"
He said the PSC did not see how Treasury belie-ved a person could survive on US$150 a month.
"When they (civil servants) walk into a shop, the storekeeper does not say because you are the least-paid, I am reducing the price," he said.
Dr Nzuwah said they had also proposed that the Government gives land to civil servants and facilitates that they secure loans from financial institutions to buy houses and cars while the State gives guarantees.
The PSC boss said there was also a "parallel progression" where an employee could have their grade elevated without necessarily assuming managerial and administrative duties.
He said this system, which can see a person earning the same salary with a director, had not been successfully implemented largely due to petty jealousies by some managers.
Chiwundura MP Cde Kizito Chivamba (Zanu-PF) asked what the Government was doing to improve pensioners' payouts.
Dr Nzuwah responded that the PSC had proposed, over the years through successive Public Service Ministers, a framework that would create a Pension Fund, but this had not materialised.
He said actuaries had submitted a report that was lying idle.
"We have an undesirable system where we don't have a pension fund. When Minister Biti says he will be paying pensioners, he will be raising the money through tax.
"With all due respect, I think you tackle the Minister of Finance on the issue of a pension fund," he said.
Mazowe West legislator Cde Richard Chirongwe (Zanu-PF) asked what the PSC was doing to assist war veterans in the public service, most of whom cannot be promoted owing to limited educational attainments as a result of their having joined the liberation struggle.
Dr Nzuwah said the PSC was prepared to train war veterans in any discipline of their choice if that would help them improve their education or qualifications.