PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete on Wednesday announced various measures being undertaken by the government to improve the welfare of workers in the country including raising wages and easing tax burden.
Officiating at the climax of the International Workers' Day celebrations held at national level in Mbeya, the president renewed his 2010 electoral pledge to promote living conditions of workers in public and private sectors, as well as the self-employed.
A heavy tax burden through the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) levied on salaries has for long been among major complaints by workers in the country. It is encouraging to note that the government intends to reduce the tax rate further towards single digit.
Much as the government needs adequate funds for its important operations and delivery of public services such as ensuring peace and security, workers also deserve better life. It is hoped that the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) will broaden the tax base and increase collection to required level rather than targeting workers as a major source of income.
Reduced PAYE rates will enable workers to take home more cash at the end of the month, a move that will ultimately boost morale and their attitude to work. It does not make sense for one to work hard, but at the end of the day most of his or her salary is eaten up by PAYE, statutory contribution to social security funds and daily travel costs to working place and home.
It is for this reason that trade unions are consistently and rightly asking the government and other employers to look for ways of providing living wages to workers. Workers deserve decent pay for their work as well as good working conditions.
There are many cases where some workers get wages that are extremely low and inhuman, which makes it impossible for them to afford basic needs such as meals, decent shelter and sanitation. It is hoped that the proposed new constitution will take into account the welfare of working class in the country, particularly on issues like adequate and fair salaries, as well as safe working environment.