Catholic organisation says poverty levels, cost of living in country too high

The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection says poverty levels in the country have continued to be extremely high because of the huge gap that exists between income and the cost of living.

Speaking during a stakeholders meeting for employers held at Golden Pillow Lodge in Monze, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) Monze District Coordinator Phoebe Moono said that according to the survey of basic needs basket produced by the centre, the cost of living was higher than income people were getting.

Mrs Moono said that there was need to advocate for improved income for employees in an effort to bridge the gap between income and the cost of living.

She said that government must be able to create an enabling environment to ensure that even those in business are able to realize meaningful profits in order for them to meet the minimum wage for their employees.

And Monze District JCTRS Just Wages Sub-Committee member Rays Mwansa said that while trying to implement the minimum wage statutory instrument employers must also ensure that employee’s human rights are respected.

Mr Mwansa said that government also needed to invest in the promotion of socio-economic and cultural rights in order to help people to realize their rights and claim their entitlements accordingly.

He called on employers to consider improving working conditions for their employees in order to contribute towards bridging up the gap between income and cost of living.

Mr Mwansa said that government also had a critical role to play in ensuring the country’s economy is improved so that employers especially those in the business sector could be able to meet the minimum wage.

Meanwhile the business community in Monze has bemoaned government’s failure to carrying out proper consultations with employers in most parts of the country over the minimum wage statutory instrument.

Moving a vote of thanks on behalf of stakeholders that attended the meeting, Director of Southern Comfort Motel Edgar Keembe said that the statutory instrument over the minimum wage was too verbal and needed to be put in written in accordance with the terms and  conditions of service.

Mr Keembe said that there was need to ensure that the income per capita is improved upon if employees are to get better salaries.

He encouraged JCTR to continue engaging stakeholders in dialoguing over development of Monze district through which developmental ideas could be brought together.

Mr Keembe also expressed concern over the increased numbers of vendors in Monze who were trading all over without any controlling measures.

He said that the situation was getting out of hand and needed to be checked by government through the local authority.

Mr Keembe observed that vendors had contributed to making it difficult to implement the keep Monze clean and healthy campaign because litter was thrown any how despite a few liter bins placed in strategic places.

He called on the local authority together and other stakeholders to consider advocating for controlling measures of vending by ensuring that vendors start trading in designated places where water and toilets could be provided.

Mr Keembe also complained of the frequent load shedding by Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) saying the trend was another major hindrance to development in the district because it had affected all corners of business.

He said that electricity and water were an important component of any form of development and government must do everything possible to ensure that such trends are minimized.

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