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SWAZILAND, IMF TO CLASH OVER PAY RISE, SAYS PM

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MBABANE – Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini yesterday publicly admitted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not be pleased with the recent implementation of the salary review for civil servants.
“Sitocabana ne IMF,” said the PM, loosely translated to mean ‘the country is headed for a collision course with the IMF’.


Dlamini was responding to a question posed by Times of Swaziland Managing Editor Martin Dlamini, who wondered what the E850 million plus would mean to the wage bill of the civil service, and how international partners would view it?
The PM said it was an open secret that the IMF wanted government to reduce the size of the civil service and, therefore, reduce the wage bill but instead government had done the direct opposite by increasing it.


The PM, however, explained that the salary review was something that had to be done because government had an agreement with public servants that there would be a review every five years.
He said after negotiations, government had agreed to the E850m plus, and although it would  weigh heavily on the fiscal position of the country, it had to be done.


“What people need to understand is that this was a review and not a negotiation for things like cost of living adjustment,” said the PM.
He said from 2011, the civil servants had stagnant salaries, which was why the review had to be implemented.
Saturday Observer Editor Alec Lushaba further asked the PM if the current fiscal situation was not similar to the one that was experienced during the financial crisis of 2011, where organisations like the IMF did not want to assist the country by lending it money.


He wondered if the country would be eligible to qualify for assistance should another economic crisis hit.
In response, the PM said as much as Swaziland was a member of the IMF, issues of sovereignty always took precedence. “We engage the IMF and others but at the end of it all, Swaziland will have the final say because we are an independent nation,” he said.


The premier said for example, the IMF wanted government to reduce the number of civil servants, yet each government employee had 10 dependants and, therefore, it would cause many people to suffer, hence government could not offload the civil servants.


The PM expressed hope that now that the salary review had been implemented, all civil servants would deliver for the development of the country, until the next review in 2021.      
Government, together with public sector unions, had been engaged in vigorous negotiations, which were finally concluded on Wednesday night. Civil servants will finally get their much awaited salary review at the end of the month, backdated to April this year.

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