Cape Town - Government's wage bill needs to be sustainable, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.
In his 2013 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), tabled in Parliament, he said government managed risks to safeguard fiscal sustainability.
The risks to South Africa's fiscal path included pressures from public-sector wages, the debt trajectory, and the balance sheets of state-owned companies.
Over the medium-term, government would ensure that growth in employment and earnings did not threaten the spending ceiling.
Specific attention would be paid to restraining growth in administrative posts.
Since 2005, more than 250,000 personnel had been added to national and provincial government payrolls, with the largest increases in education, healthcare, and criminal justice.
While most of the new positions were created for teachers, nurses, and police officers, there was concern about the growth of managerial and administrative staffing across government.
“Growth in the public-sector wage bill has exceeded the rate of inflation over the past several years. This relates partly to the implementation of occupation-specific dispensations, designed to raise public-sector salaries for skilled and experienced staff to those of similarly skilled professionals in the private sector.”
It also reflected above-inflation annual wage settlements.
Following the conclusion of the largest occupation-specific dispensations and the three-year wage settlement reached in 2011, earnings increases had begun to align more closely with inflation.
The wage agreement provided for an inflation-plus-one percent increase in cost-of-living adjustments.
In the past two years, public-sector employment growth had begun to slow.
The National Treasury and the public service and administration department were working to improve the monitoring of wage-bill trends and to enforce discipline in hiring new personnel.
Government aimed to maintain staff numbers at a constant level over the next three years. Exceptions would require a compelling explanation.
Government was also committed to reaching a sustainable public-sector wage agreement. - Sapa