Correspondent|FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube yesterday said Government was seized with addressing salaries for civil servants and the issue will be solved in a few weeks’ time. The Government last week offered civil servants a 100 percent pay rise, in a move that will result in the least-paid worker taking home $2 033, up from $1 023 per month.

However, civil servants rejected the offer.

They continued demanding that their salaries be pegged on the interbank rate, with the lowest-paid worker getting the equivalent of US$475 monthly.

“We are negotiating with civil servants against the vagaries of inflation,” said Minister Ncube.

“Those negotiations are making progress. When negotiating there can be disagreements and that is normal. But we as the employer, we are going to make sure there is a decent salary for civil servants.

“We appreciate the work that they do and also we are going to honour that by this cushioning allowance. It is our expectation that we come to some agreement in the next few weeks so that we can move forward.”

More than 15 civil servants’ associations and eight staff associations met in Harare yesterday to receive feedback on Government’s position on last week’s meeting.

In an interview after the meeting, Public Service Association president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said civil servant’s representatives met and disagreed with the Government offer.

“They said they are incapacitated, hence there is need to peg their salaries equivalent to US$475 at the interbank rate for the minimum worker,” she said.

“We will continue to engage the Government until our demands are met.”

An economic analyst, Mr Persistence Gwanyanya, said while experts were fully convinced about the need to improve the remuneration of civil servants in line with the rising cost of living, that should be in line with the major objectives to achieve low and stable inflation.

“Now, pegging salaries against the interbank rate does not achieve this as it’s likely to result in wage price spiral,” he said.

“This will take us back to the hyperinflation period of 2008. What this means is we should understand that we are in a transition and we can’t achieve all goals at once. We need logical sequencing of interventions.”

Mr Gwanyanya said ideally, salaries should be increased, but not to the extent of pegging them to a set US dollar figure paid out at the interbank rate.

He said Government and labour should agree with a level of salary increase that achieves the major objective of low and stable inflation whilst improving the standard of living of civil servants.

“The subsidies model currently in place has to be effectively implemented to reduce the cost of living,” said Mr Gwanyanya.

“That is where Government can provide an acceptable excuse not to increase salaries in line with the interbank rate.”

Source: State Media