Cash squeeze: Govt extends recruitment ban

Nqobile Bhebhe

LIMITED revenue inflows to Treasury has forced government  to extend  a recruitment freeze on civil servants only limiting itself to critical  workers, a cabinet minister has said.

 

Public Service minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro told the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday that only critical technical public workers across all ministries would be employed.

Early last year, Treasury froze all new public service appointments citing lack of money to foot the wage bill.

“We expect the freeze to continue this year due to limited revenue inflows to the Treasury. However, this does not translate to mean a complete ban. Workers in education and Health ministry’s other departments would be recruited”, said Mukonoweshuro.

Mukonoweshuro said government was struggling to raise salaries for the current workforce and would not put a time frame for a resumption of full scale recruitment.

 “Until such a time when we have significant revenue inflows that would allow us to pay regionally competitive salaries we will not start mass recruitment to fill all vacant posts,” he said.

When government resolved to impose a freeze last year it cited lack of fiscal space to fork out salaries to an estimated 200 000 employees who were gobbling almost 70% of total domestic budget and 18% of Gross Domestic Product.

Economists recommend that no more than 30% of the budget be channelled to salaries as per World Bank standards.

 In his budget statement Finance minister Tendai Biti increased the salary bill to US$1 billion from US$773 million, an increase of about 30%. Taken together with other employments costs such as pensions, medical aid and other allowances, the total salary bill will be US$1, 4 billion this year, an increase of US$400 million from the 2010 outturn of US$1 billion.

Economists say this figure was unsustainable.