HARARE, May 3 — The Zimbabwe government says it is planning to decentralize the Salary Service Bureau to remove irregularities and strengthen control over the wage bill.

Estimated at over 200,000, the civil service is taking up over 80 percent of the national budget, resulting in government failing to direct more funding towards activities to grow the economy.

The problem is also being exacerbated by reports of ghost workers believed to be on government’s payroll.

Government has since started an audit of the civil service.

In a letter of intent to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the government said the decentralized structures would be in place by the end of the year.

“By end-2015 we expect to complete decentralization and modernization of the Salary Service Bureau, which would place a payroll assistant in every district, strengthening control over the wage bill and minimizing irregularities,” read the letter co-authored by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya.

“At the same time, we will develop a medium term strategy to bring the wage bill to a level that would create sufficient room for development spending.”

The government said the Civil Service Commission was working on streamlining the public sector by conducting a restructuring exercise.

This, the letter said, was being done to align ministries’ staffing with their mandates to identify duplication and redundancies.

“We have started work on restructuring parastatals to reduce fiscal costs, improve accountability and service delivery. We have identified 10 state-owned enterprises that, after restructuring, will play a more important role in the implementation of ZIM ASSET.

“We have been conducting performance audits of these companies which will be used to prepare restructuring strategies.”

Zimbabwe entered into a Staff-Monitored Programme with the IMF, under which the financial institution assists Zimbabwe to put its public finances on a sustainable course while protecting infrastructure investment and prioritizing social spending.

The SMP is also meant to strengthen public financial management, reducing financial sector vulnerabilities and restructuring the central bank.