New Zimbabwe (London)

11 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Government Forced to Change Pay Dates Again

THE government has again shifted pay dates for civil servants as it continues to struggle with finding the money to pay its huge 230,000 workforce.

In a statement Wednesday, Civil Service Commission secretary, Pretty Sunguro, announced new pay dates for civil servants and pensioners for the period between June and December.

"The new pay dates replace all previously communicated and advertised pay dates for the months June to December 2014," said Sunguro.

In a bid to meet election promises made by Zanu PF, the government upped its workers' salaries this year with the least-paid civil servant now earning US$375, while teachers are paid around US$500.

Analysts immediately warned that the cash-strapped administration would struggle to meet the new US$155 million wage bill.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been forced to put off pay dates since, admitting that finding the money was proving difficult.

"When resources are not of the levels to meet our obligations we have to wait," the minister told legislators last month.

"We run a cash budget, and a cash budget means that we wait for receipts from Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) before we can disburse to meet the obligations of government including the salaries of honourable members."

Former finance minister and opposition leader Tendai Biti has condemned the pay delays saying they were emblematic of a worsening economy under Zanu PF charge.

"The economic figures are not looking good. The current Zanu PF government is clueless and mediocre," Biti said in his latest economic review statement.

"The biggest crime that this government of the day is doing is failing to pay civil servants their monthly salaries on time.

"The government payday is now fluctuating and the government is failing to honour civil servants' deductions. It is not coping. We are seeing the government's desperation in the increases in health fees and toll gate charges."

The goverment spends three quarters of its $4,1 billion budget on salaries for state employees and, so far this year, recurrent expenditure, mostly wages, have eaten up 96 percent of monthly revenues, crowding out essential capital expenditure.

In his 2014 budget statement, Chinamasa said the situation was not ideal adding he would like to reduce the salaries budget to 30 percent of overall revenues by 2018.

The minister however ruled out the politically sensitive option of retrenchments saying he would achieve his objective by growing the economy and increasing tax revenues.

However, the economy continues to struggle with the World Bank warning Wednesday that growth would likely come to a complete halt by 2016.

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