University of Zambia Political Science lecturer Lee Habasonda says it is inappropriate to raise salaries for the President and senior government officials when the country is in jeopardy and at risk of defaulting on its obligations.

Responding to a press query from News Diggers! Habasonda noted that the increment of President Edgar Lungu’s monthly salary and allowances was against the principle of austerity measures.

“It is puzzling that President Lungu and his senior officials have implemented a pay rise for themselves at a time their own government is implementing austerity measures. Clearly the President and his team risk being misunderstood about their commitment to these measures. An important objective of a policy of economic austerity is the maintenance of investor confidence in the government’s ability to manage its finances. This determines not only its ability to borrow now and in the future, but also the terms and conditions upon which creditors are willing to lend,” Habasonda, who is a former TIZ president, said.

“It would appear this action is inappropriate considering that expenditure related to consumption will undermine the measures that are attempting to significantly curtail government spending in an effort to control public-sector debt, particularly when we are in jeopardy and at risk of defaulting on our obligations. It is worrying that those in the higher bracket of income are the first to increase their pecks under these difficult circumstances.”

Habasonda urged government to reverse the salary increments.

“We are concerned about a situation where half-hearted measures may not achieve the intended goal but could hurt the poorest in our country. My own view is that President Lungu and his colleagues should reconsider the decision and reverse the increments and channel the savings towards productive sectors to mitigate on the impact of the measures on the weakest in society. Leadership demands that they be the first to sacrifice but unfortunately, this is not sending the right message to the citizens who have reposed trust and support to government. Yes I have confidence they can lead by example and we await to see that they do not ignore this clarion call,” said Habasonda.