Reduce subsidy allocation for our perks- Malawi civil servants demands

Malawi’s civil servants have presented a petition to the National Assembly with a demand that members of parliament should consider reducing the K60 billion earmarked for the country’s  Farm Input
Subsidy Programme (Fisp) and instead give the money to salary increments.

Presenting the petition to one of the MPs Nicholas Dausi for Mwanza Central on Thursday, Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) President Eliah Kamphinda Banda also demanded transperancy in the salaries for members
of the cabinet and that the minister’s perks should also be determined by a Public Service Remunaration Board whose bill is about to be tabled in the House.

CSTU boss said that during this meeting the House should pass the Public Service Remuneration Board Bill without fail.

Kamphinda [in red} presents petition to MP Dausi
Kamphinda [in red} presents petition to MP Dausi

Kamphinda Banda, who expressed concerns with huge disparities in wages among departments for workers of similar qualifications and grades, said apart from ensuring equity of salaries within the civil service,
the union would also want to see ministerial salaries being determined in a transparent manner.

He said: “As civil servants we want the Honourable members to debate this bill thoroughly, ensure that the board does not become a white elephant but has teeth and a mandate to make decisions as opposed to consult and propose.

“We demand that the bill is passed during this (meeting) and all remunerations and conditions of service of all public officers including the cabinet are determined by the board.”

Kamphinda expressed concerns over what he called unbearable sharp disparities of salaries within the three arms of government and other government agencies.

“This has led to a situation whereby a driver gets more salary than an engineer or a clerical officer pocketing more than a medical doctor,” he said.

He observed that the current system has been forcing some professionals such as lawyers to abandon their positions in the mainstream civil service and opt to join other agencies such as the Law Commission, Ombudsman, Malawi Human Rights Commission, and Malawi Institute of Management.

Kamphinda pleaded that the National Assembly is the last hope for the civil servants to have the issue of pay inequalities resolved.

“Without this bill being passed then you are perpetrating discrimination in the civil service which is unconstitutional. How do we motivate our highly educated children if we leave this trend unchecked? If this bill fails to pass, civil servants in Malawi and your constituents may find it difficult to forgive you,” he said.

Kamphinda said the union proposes that Fisp allocation be reduced to meet the civil servants demands arguing that it was the same civil servants who buy expensive fertiliser for relatives who most often do not access the coupons in the programme.

Dausi in his statement, after receiving the petition, said that following the parliamentary standing orders, he would go through the petition before presenting it to the whole House for possible deliberation.

CSTU was joined by Teachers Union of Malawi and the National Organisations of Nurses and Midwives in Malawi (NONM).

The process to have the Board, was on Tuesday halted after Parliament deferred a Constitutional Amendment Bill that proposes the introduction of the Board after observation that the proposals in the bill only gives the board consultative role and not powers to make decisions for the civil servants salaries.

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