With a few days to go before schools open for the first term this year, parents and guardians are running around to ensure that they cover most of the essentials that their children need to start the new term.
But, with prices of uniforms, stationery, school fees and other consumables pegged against the interbank exchange rate or in some instances charged in US dollars, most parents and guardians are finding the going tough.
One particular group of parents greatly affected by the high cost of living are civil servants.
Since August 2019 when they last got a salary adjustment which saw the least paid worker taking home at least ZW$1000, civil servants representatives have been calling on government to adjust salaries in line with the cost of living and inflation rate.
But due to the harsh macroeconomic environment prevailing, Government failed to meet the demands of civil servants and was in constant marathon talks with them for the better part of 2019.
Whilst this might have averted strikes, adjustments are now inevitable as the cost of living has spiraled out of the reach of many.
To this effect, Government is expected to meet civil servants’ representatives, the Civil Service Apex Council next week.
“In our last meeting with the government back in mid-December 2019, we were told that they had already factored in salary increases in the 2020 National Budget. We know that there is something in the budget for some salary adjustments or some cushioning of some sort,” Apex Council secretary, David Dzatsungwa told ZTN.
“That being said, we hope to meet with Government very soon because the situation we have right now may affect the opening of schools. Most civil servants cannot afford to go back to work as they cannot afford the transport fares.
“Their children need to go to school and fees have gone up quite sharply. So this is a dire situation we are dealing with.”
He revealed that they still want their salaries pegged against the interbank rate.
“We agreed at the last meeting with the employer that we have to meet very early this year so that we can be able to cobble out something that can allow people to go to work. That does not mean we will drop our substantive demand that salaries be benchmarked with the interbank rate.
“We are hoping that in the coming week we should meet, if schools are to open. This is something that I think everybody should have an interest in. So I am positive that in the coming week we should meet with government. I do not think they would delay beyond that week,” he said.
Meanwhile, Government has reviewed the tax free threshold from ZW$700 TO ZW$2000 as at January 1, 2020. This means that a large number of civil servants will not be taxed this month.