Govt conducts civil service audit on ZPCS

GOVERNMENT has embarked on a staff audit for the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) as the desperate cash-strapped Treasury seeks to create fiscal space amid dwindling revenues, it has been established.

By Bernard Mpofu

With recurrent expenditure accounting for more than 80% of total revenue, Treasury has been struggling to pay civil service salaries on time while at the same time starving capital projects of funding, resulting in poor service delivery. Government has staggered pay dates for its 550 000-strong public service due to the fiscal pressure triggered by massive company closures and weakening prices of commodities on the global market.

According to a notice written by the Officer-in-Charge of Harare Prisons, all ZPCS officers were last Tuesday required to report without fail at their stations for the Public Service Commission audit.

The officers, according to the notice seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, were expected to bring their current payslips, service and national identification cards, academic qualifications and professional lateral transfers, date of attestation in government and records of last day of promotion.

While there has been discord over the government’s plan to reduce the public service wage bill, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is currently battling to clear arrears with international financial institutions, has plans to carry out a staff rationalisation exercise. Cabinet has already approved civil service wage bill rationalisation measures which will reduce the baseline public employment costs by around US$118 million by end of 2016.

Official figures show that employment costs alone took US$1,638 billion between January and June 2016, which constituted 96,8% of total revenues.

“In view of the above revenue constraints, against expenditure pressures, implementation of the 2016 National Budget inevitably requires further fiscal reforms in order to rebalance expenditures with anticipated revenues, including rationalising public expenditures, as well as the reduction of employment costs in favour of capital and social spending,” Chinamasa said during his presentation of the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review last month.

“In this regard, the medium term Public Service Wage Policy target is to reduce the consolidated wage bill — wages and salaries for central government plus wage-related transfers to grant-aided institutions — to around 60% of revenue by 2019, thereby creating additional fiscal space to support service delivery and growth-enhancing infrastructural spending.”

Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira said while cabinet has given a nod to lower the wage bill, government would not embark on layoffs.

“We are not talking about retrenchment at the moment, but the time might come where we might have to retrench after the redeployment process and when we would have dealt with overstaffed areas,” she said in an interview with the Independent.

“All we have done for now is a civil service audit looking at the various ministries, but we have no retrenchment plan. For those areas which are overstaffed, their staff will be redeployed elsewhere, depending on the qualifications and suitability to the ministry to which they are being moved. We still have to complete our audit on the foreign service which we had not included on the initial civil service audit. The other issue is that we do not want to retrench then re-hire.”