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Zimbabwe Civil Servants Anticipate Pay Raise From Finance Minister

Zimbabwean teachers and other public workers have high hopes for Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s mid-year fiscal report scheduled for delivery on Thursday amid signs the economy is starting to recover from near total collapse several months into a new government.

The country's fractious and cash-strapped government is under heavy pressure to increase the salaries of teachers and other civil servants, who have been receiving an allowance of just US$100 a month since the government was put on its feet in February.

Union officials said they have received indications Biti could announce an increase in salaries to levels closer to a living wage. In other quarters, businesses and investors will be looking for more encouraging policy signals to stimulate growth and attract scarce capital.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe President Takavafira Zhou told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that teachers and other state workers have lost faith in the government, but would be pleasantly surprised if he lifts salaries above the official poverty line.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Research Institute of Zimbabwe said Biti must outline policies that will instill confidence in investors and consolidate the economic gains the government has achieved since February.

The National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, meanwhile, urged Biti to take steps to return funds misappropriated by the Reserve Bank last year from its members.

Reserve Bank Governor Gono has admitted his institution diverted millions of dollars from private and NGO accounts to prop up the former government of President Robert Mugabe.

Among those organizations whose monies were diverted was the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, though the central bank returned its funds last year.

NANGO spokesman Fambai Ngirande told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his organization wants a commitment from Harare that it will return the funds owed to the NGOs, which he said total more than US$50 million.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...