Blessings Chidakwa and Vongai Chinjeke
Civil servants’ unions have thanked President Mnangagwa’s Government for approving payment of this year’s bonuses in foreign currency, describing the development as a pleasant surprise that would go a long way in addressing the interim needs of State employees.
Government announced on Thursday that civil servants will this year be paid their bonuses in foreign currency up to a maximum of US$700, while pensioners will receive US$100 plus an extra US$80 for spouses.
Those portions of bonus entitlements higher than US$700 will be paid in local currency.
Permanent Secretary for Finance and Economic Development Mr George Guvamatanga said the President had approved a once-off cushion following challenges attributable to exchange rate fluctuations this year.
Government is expected to pay out over US$90 million, a large figure but one that Treasury can handle with Zimbabwe earning more foreign currency than it spends and with some Government taxes payable in foreign currency.
Secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, formerly Apex Council, Mr David Dzatsunga welcomed the initiative.
“We are quite satisfied with the development. It comes as a surprise. It sticks to our long-term wishes. It is the best thing that has happened,” he said.
Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Nurses Workers Union president Mr Simbarashe Tafirenyika also hailed the move.
“We applaud the decision and we are very grateful for the move by the Government. This will go a long way in addressing the needs of employees. In fact, other employers must follow suit, especially local authorities considering the prices in shops,” he said.
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union president Mr Martin Chaburumunda said it was a dream come true.
“We wanted to be paid in forex for a long time,” he said.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe said it was a good development.
“It is a welcome development that must be understood in a particular way. This must become the way things must happen.
“Besides this particular good gesture, the Government should engage us on how and when the money will be paid as this can be spoiled by service providers who may start increasing prices,” he said.
By last month, Zimbabwe had recorded US$7,2 billion in foreign currency receipts, resulting in a positive current account of about US$1,7 billion, that is more foreign currency had come in than had been spent.
At the same time the Government has its own foreign currency income since duties and taxes on some imports and on local sales in foreign currency have to be paid in foreign currency.
This has seen Treasury affording to pay bonuses in foreign currency.
Mr Guvamatanga, said those civil servants with pay scales requiring more than US$700 would get the balance in local currency.
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