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Zimbabwe fiscal cupboard bare

by Byo24NEWS
20 Jan 2011 at 22:28hrs | Views
 Zimbabwe's fiscal cupboard remains bare and the unity government will struggle to meet its wage bill for public sector workers in January 2011, finance minister Tendai Biti told the inaugural Global Poverty Summit in Johannesburg on 19 January.

"For the month of January we have only collected US$64 million and we are supposed to pay $101 million [public sector wage bill]. Where we are going to get the money to close the gap? I don't know. I have made it very clear that we can only eat what we have killed and no more or no less."

Public sector unions are threatening a national strike and have refused an 18-26 percent salary increase offer by government that would increase the lowest-paid worker's monthly income from $128 to $160. The unions are demanding a minimum monthly wage of $500.

The Zimbabwe Consumer Council told IRIN the cost of living for a low-income family of six in January 2011 was $503.40.

The unity government, which will mark its second anniversary in February, inherited a near-collapsed state with $4 million in the bank, Biti said. He assumed the post of finance minister on 16 February 2009.

Biti told IRIN: "There have been failures and successes [by the unity government], but the fact that our people are able to eat, there are [functioning] hospitals, there is clean water, things that outsiders take for granted, is an achievement."

"We [the unity government] have also failed in many areas, with the slow pace of democratic delivery, the slow pace of constitutional development, the slow pace of security sector reform - all those things are failures," Biti said.

"This [the unity government] agreement has been very difficult. Whether it will lead to the collapse of the agreement I don't know. It is like a marriage. The husband can be cheating, but it does not necessarily mean it will end in divorce," he said.

There have been failures and successes [by the unity government], but the fact that our people are able to eat, there are [functioning] hospitals, there is clean water, things that outsiders take for granted, is an achievement

Source - Byo24NEWS

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