The observations by members of Budget and Finance committee of Parliament on the meagre K300 payment per day paid to vulnerable members of our society engaged in public works are true in all respects.
The K300 could have made sense if there was no devaluation of the Kwacha considering that it was adjusted from the previous K200 which the beneficiaries got for doing the important tasks of reshaping our roads, bridges and other public works. The truth is the Kwacha has lost its value and this amount of money cannot buy much now to meet the daily needs of the people.
The public works funds come from the same source: government purse where salaries of all public workers originate. These peasants who break their backs to shape our public facilities are not doing lesser work than their counterparts from the salaried categories. They are public workers. They too deserve better treatment.
We find the reasons advanced by the salaried workers for adjustments on their pay to be pertinent and normal given the rise in cost of living. The devaluation of the Kwacha has brought untold suffering for all sections of society including the rural masses. These people unfortunately do not have a voice and suffer in silence. They go to the same markets and grocery shops like their counterparts in the salaried ranks, yet for their gruelling job, they are getting peanuts. We find this unfair and must be checked.
These people deserve better treatment and government did not need prodding from a parliamentary committee to realise that costs of basic items have gone up. A caring parent does not need a child to break glasses to heed its cry for attention nor help. We urge government to consider the hardships faced by all citizens and treat them equally.
We also wish to echo sentiments made by some sections of our society that government programmes meant to mitigate effects of huge fiscal and monetary changes should not be done haphazardly and allow only one section bear the painful effects. We all must have a share of the pains of austerity measures since this is a national cleansing exercise to rebuild our shattered economy. Government serves everyone.