Biti announces US$100 monthly allowance for civil servants

tendai_bititHARARE - Zimbabwean civil servants will receive US$100 in allowances per month, new Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Wednesday.Government workers had already been promised $100 vouchers but which they could only exchange for food and other necessities at selected shops.

(Pictured: Tendai Biti new Finance Minister)



Biti, from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party and who had been widely expected to announce new salaries for government workers, said they could now cash the foreign currency vouchers at banks.

With immediate effect all vouchers issued to civil servants as allowances would be redeemable as cash at designated banks, Biti told journalists in Harare.
With effect from March 2009 payment to civil servants will be done directly into their bank accounts and therefore the voucher payment scheme will cease. We want to promote a savings culture again that is why we have included the bank, he said.
Many civil servants including teachers, doctors and nurses stopped going to work many months ago either because they were on strike for more pay or because they could not afford bus fare to work on their small salaries.

Once a model African economy Zimbabwe is grappling with a severe economic and humanitarian crisis seen in a collapsed currency, acute shortages of food and basic commodities, amid an outbreak of cholera that has killed more than 3 000 people since last August.
A unity government between Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe formed last week has raised hopes the country could finally emerge from its crisis.
Meanwhile Biti told reporters that he and not Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono was in charge of the public purse.
Asked who was in charge of government coffers, Biti said: It is a constitutional provision that the Consolidated Revenue Fund is run by the Minister of Finance and only kept at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. It is run by the Finance Minister.

Gono, a top confidante of Mugabe, has in recent years used his closeness to the veteran leader to control Zimbabwe’s finances and is accused by critics of exacerbating inflation by recklessly printing money to fund political activities of Mugabe’s ZANU PF party.

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