Appreciate government’s inability to meet salary hike demands – Mutati
Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister, Felix Mutati has called on public service workers to exercise restraint in their demands for increased salaries and other conditions of service in view of the shrunken government revenue base brought about by the global economic crisis.
Mr. Mutati has since appealed to public service workers to appreciate government’s inability to meet their demands due to budgetary limitations.
He was speaking in Cape Town, South Africa, last night when he addressed Zambians resident there.
He was drawn to the matter by one of the residents who wanted government’s reaction to demands for higher salaries and improved conditions of service for public service workers.
Mr. Mutati said government’s revenue base has been severely affected by the global economic crunch which has resulted in closure of some of the country’s principal sources of income, such as the mines and other companies.
He, however, said government is working hard to diversify the economy from dependence on copper to other sectors, such as tourism and agriculture, as a long term measure to grow the economy and improve the living conditions of the Zambian people.
The minister urged Zambians in the Diaspora to be good ambassadors in selling Zambia’s investment potential to investors.
He said government has put in place a conducive investment climate ideal for all levels of investors from micro, medium to large scale investments.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mutati, says revelations of corrupt practices in some government ministries and other public institutions are a sign that government has put in place right mechanisms in the fight against corruption.
He said government is happy with the good work the office of the Auditor General and other law enforcement agencies were doing in exposing various financial scams and corrupt practices so that perpetrators of such vices face the wrath of the law.
He said the recent revelation of the K27 billion scam at the Ministry of Health is an example that those that want to take short-cuts to get rich will not escape the long arm of the law.
Mr. Mutati said recent approval of the Anti Corruption Policy by Cabinet, among other measures, is a demonstration of President Rupiah Banda’s commitment to zero-tolerance of corruption.
He explained that the policy aims at enhancing the role and capacity of the ACC in the crusade against corruption.
At the same function, Bank of Zambia Governor, Dr Caleb Fundanga, said Zambia’s financial sector has remained vibrant despite the global economic meltdown.
Dr Fundanga said no single bank has collapsed, but instead more new banks continue to be opened in the country, a sign of a promising economy despite the current global financial turbulence.
Speaking earlier, President Banda’s political advisor, Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika, told the audience that looking at the pace of constitutional reform process by the NCC, it was possible to have a new constitution in place before the 2011 presidential and general elections.
Mr. Lewanika added that Zambia’s multi-party democracy is taking root as evidenced in the competition for office by various political players during elections.
And in his welcome remarks, Chairman of the Zambian Community in Cape Town, David Phiri, called on the government to establish a consular office in Cape Town that would represent and protect the interests of the growing list of Zambian nationals resident there.
Mr. Phiri said the consular office would also help promote economic and commercial relations between Zambia and Cape Town and foster social and cultural co-operation between Zambia and South Africa.
He said Cape Town has about 4,000 Zambian nationals engaged in various occupations who find it difficult to access consular services at the Zambia High Commission in Pretoria, which is thousands of kilometers away.
Mr. Phiri also appealed to the government to speed up the processing of new passports for Zambians resident in Cape Town. He said a number of them have applied through the High Commission in Pretoria but it is taking long for the new passports to be processed in Lusaka, a situation that has adversely affected the residents.