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Monday, July 2, 2012

JK toughens stand on doctors

President Jakaya Kikwete has said that the government has no plan to increase monthly package for doctors, vowing to sack those who would continue with the strike.
He described the doctors’ proposals for salary increment and allowances as “too much” and beyond financial ability of the government.
“We cannot pay doctors hefty salaries and allowances…we are not ready to give empty promises at this stage,” said Kikwete on Saturday in a televised monthly national address.
If the government agrees to pay 3,500,000/= and allowances demanded by the doctors, the monthly package for beginners would go up to 7,700,000/=, a sum which the government cannot afford, said Kikwete.
“It’s really impossible for us…it’s unreasonable to give empty promises to respected professionals, the likes of doctors,” he insisted.
On the basis of that reality, he said, doctors in public hospitals who are not satisfied with the current pay package should feel free to resign and go to employers who can pay them better.
He said it sounds strange for doctors to strike as a means of pressing the employer (government) to raise monthly salary and allowances while there were other employers who can pay better.
“Government doctors should not waste their time…we will not pay them such hefty packages,” said Kikwete, adding: “After all, why continue working for an employer (government) who cannot pay salary and allowance scales you want?”
“Why can’t they (doctors) resign?...just resign instead of fighting with employer (government),” said Kikwete.
“Why bothering the employer, forcing the government to force you to resign and move out of the employers’s residential quarters within 24 hours…avoid all these problems by resigning voluntarily,” said Kikwete.
According to the president, relevant labour authorities would were taking actions, including sacking, all doctors who refuse to report back to work, describing their action as deliberate violation of employment laws and regulations and doctors’s code of ethics.
“It's better we sack them…and recruit new ones. It does not make sense to say that you have (government) doctors who are not working. I know there would be public complaints, but what should we do under such circumstances?,” said Kikwete.
He reaffirmed government’s firm determinationa and commitment to improve working environment and renummerations for public servants, including doctors, noting that “we have already started and continue doing so, depending on the government budget.”
Kikwete explained that the government hardly spend a lot of tax-payers money for paying doctors’ salaries and allowances only, saying “if we do that, the government would be unable to provide other essential services for Tanzanians.”
Regarding rumours and controversies behind the heavly beaten and kidnapped Dr. Stephen Ulimboka, Kikwete distanced government hands in the brutal attack.
He said the government had not commissioned anybody or groups of people to attack and brutally tortured Ulimboka, who has been an instrumental tool in talks between the government and doctors.
The government has been mentioned as one of suspects in the Ulimboka’s attack, he said, noting that the government cannot do that.
“As I said earlier, much progress has been recorded during our negotiations (between doctors and government), with the exeception of salary and allowances, areas where we did not reach agreement. And Dr.Ulimboka was a key connector in these achievements…why should the government commission people to torture him. For what reason? For what benefit?” questioned Kikwete.
He said he already directed security and intelligence organs to speed up investigation on Ulimboka’s attack in order to identify perpetrators of the crime and punished accordingly.
Meanwhile, President Kikwete has expressed dismay over 43 dead bodies of unidentified people which were recently abandoned at Chitego village, Kongwa District, Dodoma Region—in the face of escalating human trafficking in Tanzania. Besides, he said, 84 people were found in critical condition in the region, noting that all these incidents are pioneered by foreign human traffickers who are crossing the country through Mara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Lindi, Mtwara, Coast regions, Pemba, Unguja.

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