FORMER secretary to the cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says government should focus on fixing the economy rather than complicating things by giving meaningless salary increments to civil servants.

Dr Sacika noted that government’s meagre eight per cent salary increment would not solve civil servants’ huge financial problems due to the overwhelming economic challenges afflicting the local economy.

“Coming at this stage when the finances of government are in serious difficulties, the wage increase will only compound and complicate the management of our economy without solving the problem of the civil servants. The most pressing and urgent problem that the government is facing is to restore growth and viability to our economy, how to reduce the rate of inflation in our economy and how to reverse the depreciation of the kwacha. To take political decisions, which may have the effect on the drive on our economy, is not the way to go,” Dr Sacika said in an interview.

He insisted that the gesture, which could be viewed as a “bribe,” was meaningless as it will not mitigate the effects of the high rate of inflation, which skyrocketed to 17.4 per cent last month, on the workers.

“My view is that many people, including civil servants, will view this wage increase as a bribe to induce civil servants to vote for the PF in next year’s election. But the gesture will have no impact on how civil servants will cast their votes. A wage increase of eight per cent in an economy where the rate of inflation is around 17.4 per cent is a meaningless gesture. A wage increase should be able to mitigate the effects of inflation, if it does not do so then it is a mere token of very little meaning and value as the case is in this gesture,” said Dr Sacika.

“The decision to increase the pay for civil servants is not the right way to go. As you probably know, civil servants constitute only a very tiny fraction of the total labour force in the country. As a class of workers, civil servants are already underpaid than their counterparts, the commercial workers. What will happen to the millions of workers outside the civil service, who have to bear the brunt of an economy, which is performing poorly, what is going to happen to them? The trade unions are as good as dead!”