Government Officials Defy Mugabe, Gobble US$10m In Three Months

Addressing a media briefing in Harare Thursday, Finance Minister Tendai Biti also revealed that civil servants salaries are set to gobble 67 percent of the government revenue by year end.

“In July of 2011, the Chief Secretary to Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda issued a circular that insisted that there be a cost cutting and fiscal retrenchment in government, that there should be restrictions on fuel, restrictions in travelling. I am sorry to say that is not working,” Biti said while presenting the 2012 budget rollout plan and consultative process.
The Finance Minister in July this year revealed that Zimbabwe’s bureaucrats, who in June this year had gobbled US$30 million in foreign jaunts, ignored Mugabe and increased the expense by an additional US$10 in a space of three months.
“Our travelling expenditure to date is $40 million which is absolutely pathetic when you consider that we owe farmers US$35 million. So we are not living and cutting our cloth to its size.”
Biti described the expenditure as “a nightmare” and said he did not have any power to stop the extravagance.
He said the July salary increase has further squizzed government’s fiscal space and defended his alleged inflexibility in paying government workers adequate wages.
“The July salary increase had a net effect of increasing our wages to the end of the year by US$260 million or an additional US$42 per month,” he said.
He added, “The outcome to the end of the year is that we are going to have a situation where our employment costs are now 67 percent of our total expenditure.”
According to Biti, there are 235 000 government workers whose wages outweigh other government liabilities like providing health needs to citizens, rehabilitating run down public infrastructure, education and other needs.
Biti further revealed appalling statistics in which ordinary Zimbabweans and the private sector in 2010 imported US$100 million worth of potatoes describing it as criminal.
“Zimbabwe imported US$1 billion worth of fuel, US$100 million worth of potato chips and US$1 billion worth of motor vehicles,” Biti said.
“I find that criminal that for an economy like this we can spend more than 40 percent of our budget or 12 percent of GDP on motor vehicles.
“We should be importing heavy duty equipment instead of potato chips and motor vehicles.”
Biti said his ministry will, in the 2012 budget presentation due for mid November, rationalise the inverse situation where the now virtually survives on imports.
He however said government will be able to meet fiscal target growth rate of 9,3 inflation target of below 4 percent, will be able to meet revenue target of US$2,7 billion.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has promised to deliver a budget that shall create more employment and further cater for other necessities like education, over and above bringing further stability to the country’s economy, which he said continued to be buffeted by political instability and policy discord.