Patrick Chitumba and Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporters
GOVERNMENT has pledged to extend the foreign currency non-taxable Covid-19 allowance for civil servants and pensioners to December as it maintains its position of providing a living wage for its employees.
The offer was made during the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting yesterday which brings Government and civil servants representatives under one roof to tackle issues affecting workers.
The Government in June announced a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$75 a month for civil servants and increased their salaries by 50 percent while pensioners who retired from the civil service also got a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$30.
Government had said the forex allowance was just for three months meaning it was supposed to end last month.
The forex allowance is part of President Mnangagwa’s measures to cushion Government workers from the adverse impact of Covid-19.
When it announced the Covid-19 forex non-taxable allowances, Government stated that civil servants had to open nostro accounts so that the money is deposited in the accounts and used electronically to guard against channelling the forex to the black market.
However, last month, Treasury observed that some banks were colluding with retail shops to deny the civil servants access to their money hence sabotaging the Government programme.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube last month challenged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to bring the banking sector to order and address the artificial hurdles depriving employees from accessing their forex.
RBZ last month ordered banks to ensure that all civil servants are issued with bank cards to enable them to access their foreign currency allowances.
Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecilia Alexander said negotiations to improve civil servants’ salaries are on-going and Government has tabled an offer to extend the Covid-19 allowance to December.
Mrs Alexander said Government made it clear that it understood the plight of its employees and was working to address some of the challenges they were facing.
“We had a meeting today with Government representatives who made an undertaking to extend the Covid- 19 forex allowance to December. We also discussed the issue of salary increase and the negotiations are ongoing,”she said.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary general Mr Tapson Sibanda said the Government agreed to pay civil servants foreign currency allowances until year end. He said Government also promised a 40 percent salary increase.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said salary negotiations for civil servants were ongoing and therefore he did not want to pre-empty the negotiations.
“I’m not at liberty at this particular time to discuss those issues because they are subject to our negotiations in the NJNC meetings. A full statement will be issued once we conclude the negotiations,” said Minister Mavima. — @nqotshili.
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