There are clear indications that government will not have exhausted its approved P10 billion wage bill for 2011/12 at the close of the financial year. All the ministries are unlikely to have utilized the remaining balances in their salaries and allowances budget by March 2012 (end of the 2011/12 government financial year). ┬á
A calculation of the net savings, using the actual salaries and allowances expenditure figures accompanying the tabled Draft 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated & Developments Funds, points to a staggering 15 to 20 percent savings.
The trade union movement could use the huge savings as a bargaining chip in pressing for a salary increase for the 2012/13 financial year at the Bargaining Council, especially that the civil service has gone for three solid years without any meaningful salary raise save for the three percent hike implemented last October in the aftermath of the two-month long strike in 2011.
Government could also use the huge savings to appease the civil service by awarding a salary increase of at least 10 percent in its 2012 Budget Speech to be presented by Finance and Development Planning Minister Kenneth Matambo on the 1st of February.
That is if it reneges on its vindictive attitude towards the workers and their trade union movement which, by all intents and purposes, has treated as an enemy and not a partner in its labour relations exercise.
According to the tabled figures of expenditure up to December 2011, Parliament was allocated P45.8 million budget for its salaries and allowances and had utilized P29.2 million while the State President Ministry, with wage allocation of P2.6 million, had used P1.9 million.
The scenario clearly shows that the two ministries would not be able to use the remaining funds in their salaries and allowances budget in the three months before the close of the financial year.
A further peep into the other ministries wage expenditure paints a similar picture as the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning had up to December 2011 used only P54.8 million of its P101 million salaries and allowances budget.
The same goes for the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs which up to December had used P18.4 million of its P28.3 million budget while the Ministry of Agriculture had used P25.8 million of its salaries budget from its allocation of P40 million with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development using P151.6 million out the its salaries budget of P234.8 million.
Further scrutiny of the expenditure shows that by December 2011, the Ministry of Trade and Industry had used P10.5 million of the P16.2 million salaries and allowances budget allocation while the Ministry of Local Government had used P46.2 million of its P74 million budget allocation for salaries and allowances.
A perusal of the salaries and allowances budget for all the ministries show that not a single ministry would have exhausted its budget by the close of the year and that the net effect of that would be a huge savings for the government which could be used to cushion any salary increase if it is to be implemented.
An economist with Econsult, Bogolo Kenewendo said there could be a number of factors that contributed to the low expenditure citing the introduction of the early retirement package which a lot of the civil service employees opted for.
She said it is possible that after the departure of those who opted for the early retirement, their vacancies have not been filled to date and that would ordinarily translate into some form of savings in that particular category.
The third factor Kenewendo cited was the application of the “no work no pay” rule that was applied by government on the striking workers last year in addition to the fired workers who were not re-employed after the strike.
“All these factors would contribute to some kind of savings in addition to a number of vacancies which have not been filled overtime. Obviously government saved a lot of money in terms of salaries and allowances during the two month strike”, said the economist.
An economist with the finance ministry who was not authorized to talk to the media said the savings is nothing new and should not be a cause for concern.
“This scenario is not anything┬ánew. It’s only that this time you have been able to pick it up. It is something that we are used to although nobody has ever cared to explain it to the public. It is fortunate that you have been able to pick it up. But honestly speaking it is nothing new as it happens year in and year out ”, said the economist who added that the trade union movement has failed to pick it up and use it as a bargaining chip.
“A lot of vacancies have not been filled for many years yet they are budgeted for. In that regard it would appear┬áat face value┬áthat a lot of money has not been used from the budget allocation”, said the economist.