Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Roland Msiska has disclosed that senior members at his office have not received any salary increment in the last four years because government has been working to improve conditions for general civil servants.

And Dr Msiska says the removal of sitting allowances and other valuations paid to civil servants off payroll has helped government in giving civil servants better salaries that would help them save more for their retirement benefits.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday interview programme, Dr Msiska said civil servants’ unions could testify to the fact that his office has not had any salary increment for the last four years because it was more concerned about improving the welfare of junior civil servants.

“When we did the first increment as government, the lowest got about 200% increment. For four years, assistant directors, directors, Permanent Secretaries, deputy Secretary to Cabinet and myself had no increment, it was frozen. Clearly, when you look at a job and you are trying to reassign how much the renumeration you are supposed to give to that individual, there are certain key valuables you look at: what is the market, where can these people be employed? They can be employed in parastatals, you can be employed in the private sector. So you do that comparison then you look at the things I was telling you last time: the complexity of the task, the span of control and the impact of a negative decision. That’s why they encourage that you do also a job evaluation and regrading exercise because there must be equal pay for equal work. If you do more work, you are meant to be paid more, if you do less work, you are meant to be paid less,” Dr Msiska said.

“When we were using the system where allowances were being paid off payroll, it was very difficult to see even what the highest was getting. If you just looked at the basic [salary], it was this narrow (illustrating with his fingers) but if you added all these allowances, it was that wide. This is why we said [that] for the good of the public service, let’s see if we can freeze this particular [section of people] which is very little I think, if you add up all of us we are about 400… so if we had been selfish, we would have said that it’s easier to keep on increasing on our side while the bottom ones suffer because they are so many and every time you increase its a lot more money. You can ask the unions, for four years, we didn’t increase any of our conditions.”

Meanwhile, Dr Msiska said the curtailing of certain allowances for civil servants had helped government save more money to give civil servants as retirement benefits.

“I don’t know if you understand how huge a problem the sitting allowance were. Some civil servants were not even going to banks because you could have three meetings that you go to… they (civil servants) even had a term for it ‘sign and go’, which meant that you sign here then you just come and collect the money after wards. But that created a very severe distortion and if you check, most of these allowances were being paid to civil servants along the line of rail, not the ones that are in the far flung areas like Kaputa and all those kind of individuals. So in reality, in doing what the government did, it equalised. For example, for the first time, everyone was paid transport allowance irrespective of where you were, housing allowance irrespective of where you were and transport allowance to remove the clatter on the payslip,” said Dr Msiska.

“But there is something else that is also very important… when you put allowances off the payroll, when we come to calculate your pension, we will calculate on the basis of what is on the payroll and you know what that means. Studies show that if you are to survive in your retirement, you at least need about 67 per cent of your current income, including what you are hiding. I know of a council where, when we looked at the councils, there were 54 allowances but most of them off the payroll. So you found in one case, this man the basic salary was K1000 but allowances were K19,000. Now when I come to calculate his pension, I will go 67 per cent of K1000, so he’s automatically destitute before he even starts his retirement.”