The figures do not add up.
If the lowest paid civil servant will earn K2.9million, it means that the civil service will gobble in excess of 60 percent of the budget in emoluments- or rather consumption.
We are actually being generous to Government because the K2.9million is for the lowest paid among the 130,000 or so officers employed in the public service in general.
Either there is a mistake in the calculation or perhaps there was a mistake in the announcement of wages because we do not believe that a responsible Government would spend that vast amount of money on emolument given the spirit and letter of the budget as presented by the Minister of Finance this year.
When the Finance Minister Mr. Alexander Chikwanda presented his 2013 budget he clearly stated the budget was intended to deliver real economic results that would be felt by all Zambians, by way of a new path of inclusive development and societal transformation, where the benefits of growth are not merely recorded in dry statistics but felt tangibly by all Zambians.
This was the promise to the people of Zambia.
The plan was very clear. K5.6 trillion was allocated to the education of which K475.1 billion was earmarked for operations and expansion of infrastructure in universities, colleges, and trades training institutions. An additional K50 billion was intended to empower the unemployed and vulnerable youth with vocational skills.
Mr Chikwanda made one major point in the budget when he stated “Sir, it is as unacceptable as it is unsustainable that in much of the post-independence era recurrent expenditure has eclipsed the development budget,” Steps have been taken in the recent past to remedy the situation and a major aim of the 2013 National Budget is to further reorient the budget towards increasingly enhanced capital expenditure in a wider scope of sectors,”
It is for this reason that we are now concerned that the spirit of the budget has been clearly subverted by the announced increases which are not only inordinate but totally out of “synch” with the rest of the economy.
A few months ago there was general furor when the minimum wage for domestic servants was raised to K700,000 with most employers complaining that the figure was un-affordable as they themselves did not make that kind of money.
The new public wage therefore is totally out of character with the existing wages in the economy, hence giving rise to genuine fears about affordability as well as the impact on the general level of inflation when the increases are finally implemented.
While it is true that Government can never go broke we have salutary experience from other more developed economies which have paid a high price for consumption oriented expenditure.
The situation in Cyprus, the situation in Greece and indeed the budget cuts being suffered by the most advanced economy in the world, USA, are indicative of the need to curb public consumption.
The shift across the globe is for prudent use of public resources towards investment in order to increase national wealth rather than appeasing a tiny minority of the population which stands to benefit for less contribution to the total cake.
As the situation stands our hospitals are in a total shambles lacking medicine and personnel. The ordinary people have to queue for hours on end to be given prescriptions to purchase drugs from private pharmacies. This is against the PF campaign promise, which assured citizens of free medical services.
Our education institutions are in an equally deplorable condition. In Lusaka Government run a gauntlet with students for the improvement of sanitary conditions. The situation is even worse in outlying areas.
It will be unfair for the public service to consume more than the people that put the Government in office who deserve an equal if not bigger share of the national cake through improved services.