COMMENT: The civil service exchange allowance, a source of relief

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The Chronicle

The government continues to show its commitment to improving the well-being of its workers by starting to pay them the Covid-19 allowance in foreign currency.

Since the pandemic broke, the government has paid the allowance of US $ 75 for each public servant, but the money was only available in local currency at the auction rate.

Government retirees also benefited. As of this month, workers will be paid in hard currency while retirees will receive an allowance of US $ 30 under the same conditions.

As it does a month after the government paid civil servants their 2021 annual bonus in hard currency, the allowance is expected to help allay the problems civil servants have been grappling with in recent months due to the rise in l inflation and the decline in the purchasing power of their wages. Retirees are also struggling.

Therefore, the new package must be very good news for all government employees as well as retirees or their widows and widowers.

They must have had a great Christmas last year after receiving bonuses in US $. They must have been able to purchase a few more items, with more flexibility during the festive break with US dollars in hand than they did when they received local currency wages throughout. Last year.

Now, given the improved Covid-19 allowance, it would be much easier for them to plan their spending with the assurance that on each payday they would get US $ 75 more in cash. As they did during the Christmas period, in the future they would have the luxury of spending on a number of items for which the market demands foreign currency.

For example, some grocery items are cheaper when purchased in US dollars than in local currency. Civil servants who own vehicles will now be able to purchase fuel, which is now sold largely in foreign currency. In addition, the allowance will spare civil servants and retirees the monthly angst of having to buy foreign currencies on the black market at astronomical exchange rates in order to be able to buy the essentials that the market offers only in forex.

So the allowance will be a source of relief indeed. Civil servants and retirees should rejoice, especially since this is paid in addition to their normal salaries and pension payments which are accessible in local currency.

It should be noted that the government announced the introduction of the Covid-19 allowance in US dollars a few days before the resumption of planned salary negotiations with its employees, probably next week.

It has been reported that some unions, when the National Joint Bargaining Committee resumes operations, will demand wages in foreign currency. Whether the government will meet this demand is uncertain given the broader implications that forex wages for the civil service may have on public finances, organized labor, and the economy as a whole.

However, the Covid-19 allowance in USD will help answer some of the questions unions have been asking themselves. It’s just an allowance, not a salary, we agree, but it’s a bird in the hand.

In addition, most civil servants enjoy free accommodation, free transport, zero duty when importing vehicles for their own use, and other non-monetary benefits. The above and the Covid-19 allowance in US dollars show that the government is working very hard to make its workers more comfortable. We urge the employer to continue.

That being said, we ask the private sector to work just as hard to keep their workers just as comfortable.

Yes, some companies already pay part of their employees’ salaries in hard currency, but the majority continue to pay in local currency, but almost all offer their goods and services in foreign and local currencies.

We suggest that they start where the government started, paying only a small portion of their employees’ salaries or allowances in foreign currency and the rest in Z $.

The packages can be improved or revised depending on the economic situation. Doing so will go a long way in easing the burden that private sector workers have to bear by using their depleting local currency packs.

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