Parliament gravy train leaves out public officers

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up fresh information revealing the full extent of the Parliament snout in the trough culture and how parliamentarians have over the years voted themselves hefty salary and allowance increases while giving paltry increases to the civil service. The result is that, while civil service earnings increased by up to 35% in eight years, parliamentarians salaries increased by up to 50% in three years.

The data on payrolls for Botswana central government employees over a ten year period from January 2005 – January 2014 reveals that while wages did not grow so rapidly, especially after the economic crisis in 2008, the public sector was paid more and more allowances. So the 35% increase in civil service earnings in eight years was mostly due to allowances and not salaries while parliamentarians got up 50% increase in their salaries (excluding allowances) in three years.

Legislators awarded themselves salary increases of up to 10% in 2012 and again in 2014, while civil servants only got a three percent salary increase in 2012 and a four percent increase in 2014. In 2015, the legislators gave themselves salary increases of up to 39% while no increase was awarded to civil servants. The hefty increase in parliamentarians salaries are in sharp contrast to that of civil servants which have been in single digits and few and far between in the past eight years.

Over and above the salary increases, the MPs awarded themselves increases in their allowances. MPs currently get constituency allowances of up to P96 500 per anum, communication allowance of P33 400 per annum, a hospitality allowance of P7, 500 and a sitting allowance of P339 per day. The paltry increases in civil services salaries have resulted in a public service that is sinking in debt. The civil service payroll shows a huge increase under the category of ‘loan repayments’ as well as other deductions.

Between January 2005-January 2014 real gross wages, salaries and allowances in 2005 increased by P278.5/month but the take-home pay of the average public servant decreased by P344 per month. So while public servants were on average being paid more gross income they were actually getting poorer.

Between 2013 and 2014 the average deduction from salaries for repayments rose from P1,217 per month in 2013 to P1,777 per month, an increase of 46%.