Editor's Comment

Deal with ghost workers’ supporters

Government complex.

DEPUTY Secretary to the Cabinet Martine Mtonga has warned district heads of government department in North-Western Province against giving false information to officers verifying the number of workers on payroll in the region.
This is a timely warning and let those involved take heed to avoid consequences.
For many decades, Government has been losing huge sums of money through ghost workers on the payroll.
Year-in-year-out, Government continues to lose millions of money paying non-existent civil servants.
A few months ago, a payroll clean-up exercise on the Copperbelt exposed about 4,000 ghost workers and Government was losing a colossal K60 million every month through the scam.
This is a lot of money which can go a long way in meeting the many needs the country is faced with.
The country which is still in the process of developing, has a lot of needs competing against meagre resources.
From a limited budget, Government has the obligation of providing healthcare services, education, sanitation and social amenities to its citizens.
Government is expected to invest in building and maintaining infrastructure besides providing many other services to the public.
Government is also expected to look ahead and invest in growth areas like agriculture, mining, tourism and many others for the future sustainability of the country.
To invest in these areas, Government needs huge sums of money.
Like other developing countries, Zambia also has debt obligations to settle. This is unfortunately coupled with an exaggerated civil service wage bill.
Given the many competing needs coupled with the economic turbulences the country has gone through recently due of various factors, there is need to account for every penny in the most prudent way.
At a time that Government is implementing austerity measures to keep the economic ship on course; the country cannot afford to lose money from its meagre resource basket.
Government must seal all the loopholes through which resources are being lost.
Government has therefore been working tirelessly through the Smart Zambia Institute to rid the Government payroll of ghost workers.
In line with Cabinet circular number 13 of 2019, Smart Zambia Institute has resorted to a physical count of workers in government work stations across the country.
The verification exercise which has so far been completed on the Copperbelt, Eastern and Northern provinces is now being undertaken in North-western Province.
It is however disheartening that the work of Smart Zambia officials is being frustrated by some individuals with wicked intentions.
Dr Mtonga has noted that some government officials are giving false information to Smart Zambia officers verifying the payroll. This is unacceptable. The culprits must be cornered and punished.
This is why Mr Mtonga has sounded a stern warning against district heads of government department in North-Western Province to desist from such retrogressive behaviour.
“Giving false information shall attract certain sanctions. We don’t want your officials to falsify information because we have seen in certain provinces where we have already gone, people tried to falsify information.
“They were being threatened by some civil servants, who have left their positions, but still we have caught up with them and sanctions are being meted out by Cabinet Office.
“Some of these sanctions are going as far as dismissals. So I would urge you PS that let us not give false information to the officers on the ground and the district heads should ensure that the information we give is correct,” Dr Mtonga said.
Certainly anyone found falsifying information for the purpose of maintaining ghost workers should be dealt with decisively.
This is the only way to ensure that the Government payroll is thoroughly cleaned of ghost workers.
Moreover cleaning the payroll will not only help Government save money but enhance service delivery.


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