By Ackel Zwane | 2020-02-15
This year government has budgeted E113m for notching and E227m for a cost of living adjustment.
This was announced by Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg during the reading of the Budget Speech yesterday.
Despite a series of dramas of unrest by civil servants demanding the cost of living adjustment (CoLA) that spanned three years, the minister was able to give a pat at the back of the civil servants.
“I would like to thank the public service associations and its members for being tolerant and understanding of these difficult times that we are trying to overcome. We have continued to provide and pay for notching that has taken place every year, however, this has only been a benefit to some civil servants. This notching has increased the national wage bill with an average of 1.5 per cent annually.
Civil servants submitted petitions demanding a CoLA of 7.85 per cent, to offset the loss of their real incomes, to the ministry of education and training, the ministry of public service and the ministry of labour and social security. Since 2016, while the prices, including that of basic commodities, have been on the rise, the wages of civil servants remained stagnant, resulting in their real value reduced by almost 20 per cent, according to the Public Sector Associations (PSAs), an umbrella organisation of unions of civil servants employed in different sectors.
Wage bill a red flag
The five most recent IMF and World Bank country reports cautioned that Eswatini’s largest budgetary “outlier” on the expenditure side, and also the single largest contributor to the fiscal deficit, is the size of the wage bill.
Therefore, the minister said “we simply cannot afford to ignore this problem.
Since the implementation of the freeze on employment, the number of civil servants has been reduced by a little over one thousand.
As much as these policies and trends need to continue, we also must ensure that the quality and effectiveness of service delivery is not affected.”
He noted that it was an unfortunate consequence of the cash flow challenge, largely a contribution of many factors, was that it had resulted in government not being able to grant a cost of living adjustment for the past three years.
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