The United Party for National Development (UPND) has received the proposed salary increments for cabinet ministers and top government officials with a deep sense of shock and dismay.
Party President Hakainde Hichilema said at a press briefing today that the proposed increments are a disgrace on the part of government in as far as the management of public resources is concerned.
Mr. Hichilema said the correct thing for government would have been to increase the salaries of the lowly paid civil servants such as teachers, nurses and police officers.
He explained that increasing the salary of a lowly paid civil servant by 15 percent does not justify increasing the salary of an already well paid Minister by the same 15 percent saying the move is an indication of not understanding the principle of fairness and equity in the distribution the country’s income.
He wondered why cabinet has decided to approve hefty salary increments for themselves when they have not implemented various developmental projects under the pretext of not having adequate funds.
Mr. Hichilema noted that government’s statement that parliament will make the final decision on the proposed increments is unacceptable saying under the current parliamentary procedure MPs are not allowed to debate matters which affect them.
He cited government’s refusal to increase the meal allowances and Salaries for University of Zambia students and lecturers respectively as an example of government’s unfair approach to the distribution of Zambia’s resources.
He described the proposed increments which include Ministers’ fuel allowance, vehicle sale, President and Speakers’ pension and gratuity as unacceptable and unjustifiable.
Mr. Hichilema alleged that government did not spend almost K1 trillion from last year’s budget in order to award themselves huge amounts of allowances at the expense of developing the country’s education, health and agricultures sectors among others.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hichilema says government should recapitalize the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) at a commercially viable level.
Mr. Hichilema told journalists at a press briefing today that the current National Agricultural policy is dismal hence the problems being faced at NCZ.
He said there is need for a more explicit and viable policy to improve agriculture in the country.