“Soaring black market rates are eroding public service wage gains”
Patrick Chitumba, Head of the Midlands Bureau
The GOVERNMENT is concerned that the rising prices of goods and services are eroding the salaries of civil servants due to the use of black market exchange rates by companies.
To date, the government has raised civil servants’ salaries twice, representing a combined increase of 75 percent, but the gains have been eroded by ever-higher commodity prices.
Some companies use tariffs of up to $ 200 to US $ 1, which is beyond the reach of most government officials.
The official rate is $ 87.66 per US $ 1, which only a few buy from a selected bureau de change.
In an interview yesterday, Professor Paul Mavima, Minister of Civil Service and Social Affairs, said the government is very sincere about the welfare of its employees.
âWe have increased (salaries) twice this year to a maximum of 75%. We have almost quarterly bargaining sessions. The government is very sincere about increasing the salaries of civil servants. We have established some ground rules.
For example, the question of the currency of payment. The National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) is due to meet soon for the next round, âhe said.
Professor Mavima said the biggest challenge facing the nation is price instability.
âAs soon as the government increases their wages, wages are eroded by rising prices. So a concerted effort is needed to stabilize prices. “
Prof Mavima urged officials to be patient with the government, which is committed to improving their conditions of service in line with the current economic situation.
âThe economy is rebounding. All productive sectors are improving, mining and agriculture, for example. Once the fundamentals are in place, prices will stabilize and be predictable, âhe said.
The government has used many non-monetary incentives to protect workers and will continue to refine non-monetary employee benefits as it pledges to create an enabling environment for workers.
Apex Council Deputy Secretary General Gibson Mushangu said the grim reality on the ground is that civil service salaries have been eroded by inflation.
While praising the government for the 75 percent salary increase, he said it has since lost value, adding that civil servants face financial challenges to meet daily basic needs.
âWe have asked the government to call a meeting to chart the way forward. We have to tackle the salary challenges we face as civil servants, âMushangu said.
âWe need our salaries to be written off. We urgently need the timely intervention of the government and that is why we are calling for a meeting because things are getting out of hand. Yes, from April to July officials got a 25 percent pay raise and in July they got a 50 percent raise, but it’s now a peanut due to soaring commodity prices and raw materials, âhe said.
Residents said parallel market rates were suffocating them as they could not afford to pay rents or make ends meet.
Rising parallel market rates have sent commodity prices skyrocketing out of reach for many.
Local currency workers are forced to buy foreign currency on the black market at ridiculous rates to pay for most goods and services, consuming their wages.