The continued rise in cost of living is causing serious challenges for Capital Hill as Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) is asked for salary adjustment for junior civil servants to 30 perecent and a 20 percent pay rise for senior civil servants.
MCTU Secretary General Dennis Kalekeni said civil servants were driven to the fringes of abject poverty because of sprillaring prices, especially of basic commodities.
He said government can work its magic to get resources for the pay hike, by among other things, fight worsening corruption, cut spending or scrap the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) —a crucial voter appeasement programme for rural farmers—which has been allocated K41.5 billion in the 2018/19 growing season to reach out to one million beneficiaries for both fertiliser and seeds from the 2017/18 revised figure of K33.2 billion which targeted 900 beneficiaries.
“Civil servants are becoming vulnerable,” Kalekeni said.
In his budget statement, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe announced salary increases for junior civil servants by some 20 percent (with senior grade officers to receive a 10 percent hike), driving the wage bill to K392.0 billion (7.4 percent of the GDP) and representing a 24.3 percent increase over the 2017/18 likely outturn.
The tax-free income bracket under pay as you earn (Paye) was increased from K30 000 to K35 000, the explanation being that this is aimed at improving the disposable income of taxable salaried persons.
But the trade unions mother body said government’s proposed salary increase in manifestly inadequate.
The MCTU has since issued a statement in reaction to the proposed 2018/19 National Budget urging government through the Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD) to address salary disparities in the civil servicedue to the high cost of living.
MCTU is a legally recognized body which represents the welfare of all workers in the country.