PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete on Thursday led Tanzanians in celebrating the International Workers’ Day, promising an increase in salaries in the public sector during the 2014/15 financial year.
Although the president did not disclose the minimum wage, the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) had earlier pegged the amount at 750,000/-, citing inflation and currency devaluation as the main factor.
The president responded to the request, however, that the government is not in a position to raise the pay to the levels requested by TUCTA, stressing that the government’s revenue was still too low to meet the ambitious demand.
He said the government has consistently been increasing public pay from 65,000/- in 2005 to 240,000/- last year, but stressed that he is not pleased at the rate at which the pay is being increased in the Private Sector.
“The government currently spends 44 per cent of its budget and 10 per cent of national income in paying workers salaries.
However, because the government is focused on improving the lives of its public servants, we have been increasing salaries,” he explained.
Although the development partners have been complaining over public pay increase, Mr Kikwete said public pay is still small and the government will continue to increase the pay depending on available resources.
“I believe with the trend of the economic growth we’re experiencing, in the next few years, the government will have lots of money, that will enable it to take care of its public better,” he explained.
On the private sector, President Kikwete noted that the lowest pay was 100,000/-, especially in the agriculture sector, stressing that employers in the sector were not cooperating with the Ministry of Labour and Employment to set reasonable low pay for their employees.
He directed the ministry to employ the responsible laws to pressure the private sector to pay reasonable salaries to their employees.
On Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Mr Kikwete said the government will continue reducing the tax in accordance with capacity, stressing that while in 2007 it was 18.5 per cent, it now stood at a much lower percentage – at 13.
Although he did not say if PAYE will be reduced in the next national budget, he underscored the focus of the government to reduce the tax to a single digit.
The president also revealed that the government plans to introduce an Employment Injury Fund in July, this year, that will cater for employees who get injured in the course of performing their duties by contributing one per cent to the fund.
He said the fund will start with 40m/- injected by the government, while employers will be required to contribute 0.5 per cent.
He expressed concern that employees presently get injured with some losing their lives without receiving any form of benefit.
On the workers’ councils and trade union branches at work places, Mr Kikwete noted that the employee ordinance, labour laws and employment and labour relations laws have always stressed the importance of the said organs, which serve as bridges that link employers and employees while helping to resolve industrial conflicts.
He directed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to ensure such organs are established at work places by directing labour inspectors to go around and book employers who ignore the directive.
President Kikwete used the occasion to talk about the Constituent Assembly (CA), saying members should wisely spend the 60 more days awarded for the discussion of the draft constitution and writing up the new constitution, stressing that if the process fails, other procedures will be sought.
He concurred with TUCTA that the language used was very offensive and disappointing to the public, saying that while it is normal to have opposing views, all the same it did not warrant the use of abusive language.
Mr Kikwete urged TUCTA to always stand by the interests of the workers, cautioning that if they did not do so; their agenda could be hijacked by groups that have their own interests.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Ms Gaudentia Kabaka commended President Kikwete for being presented with the ‘Good Governance in Africa Award,’ urging employers to use the opportunity to follow the president’s footsteps by adhering to good governance ethics to reduce conflicts at workplaces.
TUCTA Secretary General, Nicholaus Mgaya, urged the government to work on workers’ challenges that include improving salaries and reduce the PAYE tax.