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Mboweni wants to shrink public service wage bill

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“Once we get wage growth, corruption and wasteful expenditure under control, we will focus our attention on hiring in important areas- such as education, police, and health care.”

JOHANNESBURG – “Public servants do crucial work for our country, often in trying conditions,” Finance Minister Tito Mboweni told Parliament during his national budget speech on Wednesday. 

Mboweni said the governing party is a firm believer in the critical role of the state in development. 

“Working with the public sector unions, we have over the past 15 years sought to improve the lot of public servants, and we have committed significant resources for compensating them every year even as we have tried to increase their numbers in recognition of their demanding workloads. Between 2006/07 and 2011/12, we were able to add about 190 000 employees. However, at the same time, government wages also increased significantly. To balance the books, we slowed hiring, and since 2011/12 the number of government employees has declined,” Mboweni said.  

Mboweni said that the country cannot continue like this, with classroom sizes growing, hospitals getting fuller and communities are becoming increasingly unsafe. 

“Once we get wage growth, corruption and wasteful expenditure under control, we will focus our attention on hiring in important areas- such as education, police, and health care. We can hire strategically, and better match skills with opportunities. The employer has tabled an agenda item on the management of the public service wage bill at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, the focus is to discuss containment of costs in the final phase of implementation of the current wage agreement.” 

Mboweni also said that the government aims to save R37.8 billion in the next financial year. 

“There is more than one way in which this goal can be achieved. Organised labour understands where we are. They have made constructive proposals on a range of issues,” Mboweni said.

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