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Parliament - Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu defended government's “wage bill” and insisted it was being reduced.
Speaking during debate in the National Assembly on President Jacob Zuma's state-of-the-nation speech, she said the wage bill had been reduced from 37 percent (of the budget) to 34 percent in a short period.
The government was committed to further reducing it in the next six months, Sisulu said.
“We have brought it down through a number of cost saving exercises in the public service in particular.”
It was also important to note that the wage bill was not the money paid to public servants.
“It is the totality of the money that government spends on salaries of all the people who are paid through the public purse.”
These included public office bearers, the judiciary, Chapter 9
institutions, and the public service at national, provincial, and local government level.
Sisulu said it was generally accepted that the output of the public service was less than desirable.
“We are all very concerned about it and our responsibility is to do something about it.”
Of serious concern, was the quality of the public service, corruption in the public service, and the over-reliance on consultants to do what the state was supposed to do.
These went to the core of what the national development plan (NDP) said about creating the capacity of the state to ensure that state machinery functioned efficiently and effectively and the services promised to citizens could be delivered.
The stability and effectiveness of the public sector was greatly dependent on the commitment and devotion of its staff.
“The current view to render teaching as an essential service must be welcomed. Also to be welcomed is the stance that we will establish a Presidential Remuneration Commission.”
The remuneration commission would determine whether value for money was being obtained and whether public servants were remunerated in line with their output.
The commission was Zuma's answer to a long-standing salary structure problem.
Sisulu said the current capacity of the state to deal with corruption in the public service had been reviewed.
“Our assessment is that the current capacity is unable to deal effectively with the scope and scale of the challenge we face.
“That is why we are planning to create an Anti-Corruption Bureau, a body that, together with the SIU (special investigations unit) and other law enforcement agencies will have the necessary powers and authority to deal with major cases of misconduct, especially by SMS (senior management service) members and financial misconduct in the public sector.”
The bureau would have powers and authority to investigate across the whole of government and would be responsible for investigating, documenting, and maintaining databases and ensuring that disciplinary cases were finalised expeditiously.
Government also remained very dismayed at the number of public servants doing business with the state.
“The NDP and the Public Service Commission have recommended that we prohibit public servants from doing business with the state.
“We have accepted this recommendation and we are working on legislation to effect this and henceforth no public servant would be allowed to do business with the state,” she said. - Sapa