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CIVIL servants have been paid their salary increments backdated to January as pledged by their employer in what will certainly push government’s wage bill to unmanageable levels. While salaries for State employees have been way below the poverty datum line since dollarisation in February 2009, government had struggled to pay them all the same.

In order to honour its salary pledge to its 230 000-g workforce made ahead of the July 31, 2013 elections, Treasury has had to borrow to augment revenues generated through taxes. While it was not immediately possible to ascertain the levels the recent salary increases would take the wage bill to given that civil servants received varying thresholds depending on their grades, the adjustment will see the least paid worker taking home US$375 per month, from US$321.

Government’s salary bill amounted to US$2,6 billion last year, or 68 percent of the total budget which amounted to US$3,8 billion. The increase would see more resources being pumped towards recurrent expenditure, with several capital projects likely to remain on the backburner due to fiscal stress.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s US$4,2 billion National Budget for 2014 had no provision for salary increases. Treasury officials told the Financial Gazette this week that part of the money used to fund the wage bill came from a surplus US$17 million collected by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) during the first quarter of the year.

ZIMRA surpassed its revenue collection target for the first quarter after collecting US$834 million in taxes against a target of US$817 million.

Source : Financial Gazette