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Govt defies consultant in E13m politicians' pay

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MBABANE – Government pulled all stops when awarding the most recent salary increase for politicians.


The E13 million payout would not have seen the light of day, had government heeded the consultants’ warning.

This newspaper has uncovered that the consultant hired to review allowances had recommended that ministers and MPs did not deserve some of the perks.

However, Finance Minister Majozi Sithole has come out to say government ‘rightly’ rejected such recommendations.
Sithole says they went ahead to award politicians with money they did not deserve, at least according to the consultant.
According to Sithole, the consultant who was engaged by the same government to review the allowances, had recommended that the politicians should not be paid any sitting allowance.

Sithole said the consultant recommended a zero payment for the politicians in this area and there were justifications attached to this recommendation.
Sithole justified government’s decision by saying they had to give money to politicians because they complained.
He said government had to implement the controversial circular because parliamentarians had complained about poor pay.

The increased pay, coupled with the 12 per cent cost of living adjustment that was awarded to civil servants, resulted in government’s coffers getting seriously depleted.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) will avail only E1.9 billion to the country and this amount is E3.3 billion short of the money that the country received from the institution in the country’s last cheque.

Since there was no money to fund the politicians’ pay, Sithole submitted a supplementary budget which was later approved by parliament and the legislators had a really merry Christmas as they received their money in time for the festive season.
Government had initially estimated that the cost of living would be adjusted by 10.5 per cent but during discussions with civil servants’ organisations it was agreed that it should be adjusted by 12 per cent.

The Parliament Finance Portfolio Committee chaired by Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo, reported that the 12 per cent was ‘above what was in the budget allocation under head 60 (Central Transfers.)’
This meant that additional funding in the form of a supplementary budget would be required.

Government had to fund the supplementary budget needed to cater for the 12 per cent cost of living adjustments and their pay through money allocated to, amongst others, two civil servants’ schemes.
These are the Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme (VERS) and the Public Servants Medical Insurance, which had an allocation of E153m and E150m respectively.

It is now a mystery how government will implement the project of early retirement because some of the money that had been set aside for this was used to finance the politicians’ pay.

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