THE Government has explained the payment of bonuses to civil servants and pensioners in foreign currency, saying the money will be paid into nostro accounts.
In an interview in Bulawayo yesterday, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said the Government was prepared to settle the bonus issue as a once off payment.
“It (bonus) is going to be paid into nostro accounts of civil servants. They will be able to withdraw it as cash or transfer it to their cards and use it for purchases or even keep it in their savings accounts, it’s up to them to do what they want. They are free to do what they like with their money.For pensioners, naturally their benefits will also be paid in United States dollars (USD), even for war veterans, everyone who is on the civil service payroll will receive their bonuses in foreign currency this year,” he said.
Prof Ncube said they decided to make the payments in foreign currency owing to the inflation caused by the foreign currency parallel market which has seen an increase in prices of goods and services.
“We realised as Government that there was pressure from inflation being pushed by the parallel market and inflation was beginning to go up, but also there was a call from civil servants’ leadership that there should be payment of the bonuses in USD, so we responded to these two calls.
The President had also said let’s do it and pay the civil servants in USD and we are going to do that for this year’s bonuses,” he said.
The Government announced last week that the 13th cheque will be paid in United States dollars to cushion workers and pensioners.
The bonuses will be paid out up to a maximum of US$700 for civil servants while civil service pensioners are set to receive US$100 as bonus payments and extra US$80 for their spouses while children will pocket US$60.
The Permanent Secretary in the Finance Ministry, Mr George Guvamatanga, said civil servants that had pay scales that required more than US$700 would get the balance of their bonuses in local currency.
Mr Guvamatanga said engagements with banks would start soon to ensure that there was a smooth flow of payments at the end of November when the bonuses would be due.
It is projected that the Government will fork out US$90 million in these bonuses, a figure that the Government says is manageable.