Home » General » Economist Calls for Civil Service Labour Audit

An economist has called for an urgent labour audit in the civil service sector as the country’s wage bill continues to chew up more than 80 percent of the National Budget at the expense of capital development programmes.

Of the $4,1 billion 2015 Budget, $3,32 billion (81 percent) is earmarked for employment costs, with the remaining $798 million meant for operations, debt service and capital development programmes.

Provision for the Public Service Wage Bill for 2015 is based on current employment levels. The capital budget has been projected at $341 million (8,3 percent), while that for operations and maintenance is $384 million (9,4 percent).

Besides salary adjustments, the wage bill has been driven by the increased levels of employment from around 315 000 in 2009 to current levels of around 554 000.

This increase in levels of employment on the back of a depressed economy has called for an audit to ascertain the number of ghost workers within the civil service.

Speaking at the Parliamentary Post- Budget Workshop, Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director Dr Godfrey Kanyenze said there is need for a thorough audit of the Government’s wage bill if the country is going to realise economic revival.

“As highlighted in the 2015 Budget statement, constitutional and statutory requirements relating to salary and pension payments make the first charge on the National Budget, leaving precious little for operations and capital expenditures.

“Current efforts to deal with the unsustainable public sector wage bill include ongoing efforts by the Civil Service Commissions under their restructuring and job rationalisation to rationalise posts, taking into account overlaps of functions, redundant skills and jobs,” said Dr Ka- nyenze.

“However, there is need for an extensive labour audit to ascertain the real workforce currently serving the Government. It is shocking that employment levels have increased to 554 000 and yet the economy has been on the slide,” he said.

Dr Kanyenze said the challenge also relates to limited revenues as a result of faltering growth, and hence the need to implement the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation strategies to grow the economy.

He said as a result of this unsustainable expenditure mix, the proposed allocations are constrained.

“This Budget is primarily a package of policy interventions to unlock the economy’s productive potential, supported by both domestic and external resources.”

Therefore timeous and consistent implementation of all agreed policy interventions will require collective commitment among policymakers.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance chairperson, Mr David Chapfika, said Government’s expenditure levels are not sustainable hence the need for a total revisit of priorities.

He said recurrent expenditures to October 2014 were $2,87 billion (92 percent of total), while capital expenditure was $261,7 million (8 percent of total expenditures).

During the first 10 months to October 2014, employment costs at $2,51 billion, accounting for 80 percent of total expenditures (excluding loan repayments), against a target of $2,35 billion, an expenditure overrun of $154 million catered for by the supplementary budget.

Mr Chapfika said this was despite the fact that the target in 2014 was to reduce the wage bill from 75 percent of the total Budget in 2013, to between 55 and 65 percent in 2014 and 30 percent by 2018.

He said this expenditure-mix remains unsustainable and Government needs to revise its expenditure priorities for the economy to move forward.

Source : The Herald