Irresponsible utterances

It is totally irresponsible and unconscionable for Civil Servants and Members of Parliament to demand more money from the limited public resources.

It is equally amazing that the Chief Government spokesman Dr. Katema countenanced the possibility of a wage increase for Members of Parliament. This was totally out of order considering that Parliament approved a wage freeze on the basis of a very cogent fiscal and monetary basis associated with national economic fundamentals.

Equally the Minister of Labour Mr Fackson Shamenda must find a better explanation for the wage freeze than offer a polemical excuse that does not address the underlying malaise in the economy. The wage increase offered last year catapulted public service wages way beyond tenable limits, he must say.

The reality is that Civil servants who are basically in the business of providing service are earning far much more than workers in commerce and industry who pay taxes.

The Government is already spending more than 50 percent of the budget on emoluments. This is scandalous. There are less than 200,000 civil servants who are consuming 50 percent of the budget which is supposed to cater for the interests of more than 13million Zambians.

This is neither acceptable nor sustainable.

What is worse is the fact that harmonization within the public service still has to be effected to ensure equity.

We have no doubt that when the Patriotic Front (PF) promised more money in the pockets; it did not mean that public service workers would have more money in their pockets at the expense of the rest of society.

That is why it is immoral that law makers who can seemingly lay claim to and automatically acquire a higher share of national resources should clamor for more   and thereby encourage demands from other sectors which equally depend on public resources.

Each Kwacha diverted to consumption takes away from the rest of public society.

In reality it is not as if public service workers are not well paid. It is common knowledge that Members of Parliament earn more than K1, 000 per sitting thereby taking a tidy sum of more than K21, 000 if they sit for more than 20 days or so.

No ordinary Zambian earns this kind of money. The ordinary voter, the marketeer, mini bus driver, shop keeper or civil servant earns a fraction of the amount.

It must also be realized that apart from unfairly raiding the public coffers any increase entails a rise in inflation as more money from a few people will be chasing the few goods in the market.

It must be realized that our economy has a serious structural deficiency which makes it impervious to the “full employment” classical economics. The majority of Zambians are not employed in formal employment. The majority are underemployed in peasant agriculture.

In our view an overall incomes and wages policy is absolutely essential, if Government is to create an environment that recognizes the relationship between   the various facets of the economy, their contribution to national wealth and therefore the legitimate demands.