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‘GIVE US COLA OR REDUCE TAXES BY 6.55%’

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MBABANE – Civil servants have given government several options to offer relief to both itself and them. One of those is to reduce all taxes imposed on individual citizens by 6.55 per cent if it cannot award civil servants a cost-of-living-adjustment of 6.55 per cent.


Yesterday, about 2 000 civil servants took to the street to deliver seven petitions to various ministries and other departments where they were either demanding the increment or begging for support in that regard.
Most individuals who were interviewed randomly during the march said they were there to demand the money because they were convinced government could afford financing the increment.
“For the past two financial years, government has been giving us 0.0 per cent CoLA and we are not backing down this time around,” said a group of three male and two female participants.


Favour


They explained that they were disappointed by the fact that government did not even want to consider some of the options that workers suggested, which would work in favour of both government and its employees.
“Right now we want government to reduce all taxes affecting individuals because we are at a point where we cannot survive with the stagnant salaries were are getting,” they said.


President of the National Public Servants and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) Aubrey Sibiya said if it were not for the fact that government was stubborn, it would have long heeded to their options.
“The tax reduction option does not even require employees to suggest but government to just think ahead.”
He said government had never taken civil servants seriously and had never employed any of the suggestions they brought at table.


Stable


“If this was a government of the people, we would have taxes reduced until the economy was stable and government was able to give us the 6.55 per cent. As is, government continues to suck the little blood that is left in our system by making us pay huge taxes from salaries we are failing to survive on,” he said.


The civil servants, whose executive members, estimated to be around 2 000, delivered a petition at Cabinet where they said they wanted the 6.55 per cent now.
“We demand that you mobilise money to cater for the CoLA of all civil servants by February 10, 2019. There are many co-operating partners that can assist the government in that regard,” read the petition.
It further described the three per cent increment offered by government in the 2020/2021 financial year as disturbing.


“This statement (three per cent) means that for the next financial year (2019/2020) CoLA should not even be an issue on the JNF agenda and this is an unfortunate state of affairs.”
The workers said this projection was inconsistent with the rules of logic, arguing that if they maintained that by its nature, a CoLA was to reimburse and therefore it was implemented historically.
“So a question of mind-boggling proportions would be; how do you know the inflation rate of a year we have not yet lived in?”


Received


At the Cabinet gate, where the workers were gathered, the petition was received by Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s office Victor Nxumalo.
When handing the petition, NAPSAWU Secretary General Musa Tembe afforded Nxumalo an opportunity to address the workers and he said: “We will look into the petition.”


The main demand on the petition was that the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) be re-constituted so that the participants therein should be officers who would have the interest of the people and country at heart.
“We need to engage with people who will be pushing for the completion of the Joint Negotiation Forum (JNT) agenda in time and that government mobilised money for the CoLA for all civil servants by next week Sunday.”

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