The government’s cost-cutting measures appear to have started in earnest, with some departments cancelling their end-of-year celebrations in an effort to save money.
A number of departments and government entities will be going without the usual state-funded end-of-year party for the first time this year.
The National Treasury is later this week to release a comprehensive list of regulations to curb spending.
In his medium-term budget policy statement, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the cabinet had decided to impose severe cuts to government perks across all government departments and state-owned enterprises.
The measures included a ban on using state funds to buy alcohol and cancelling all state-issued credit cards.
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) employees received an e-mail from management informing them that they would have to go without a year-end celebration this year.
Parliament has also implemented measures of its own to cut costs. Although Parliament employees will have a year-end function, it will be at no cost to the state.
“Parliament’s general practice is to exercise prudence when spending public money and our presiding officers make a point of thoroughly interrogating proposed expenditure for institutional events,” said Parliament spokesman Luzuko Jacobs on Wednesday.
“The venue for the function, which is Fernwood Estate, belongs to the government and Parliament will, therefore, not be paying for its use, nor will Parliament be paying for or providing alcohol at the function.”
Gordhan’s spokesman, Jabulani Sikhakhane, said a more detailed list of regulations would be available for departments to guide them on where they could save costs.
“The Treasury regulations will be published shortly on these matters. It gives a list of things that departments should be observing and will be more detailed,” he said.
While GCIS acting chief executive and cabinet spokeswoman Phumla Williams failed to respond to calls and messages this week, a senior GCIS employee told Independent Newspapers that “we are definitely not having one (function)”.
“We received a notice that we’re not having one. I think the message was that everywhere we can cut costs, we must cut. But if we want it to happen we must do it with our own funds,” said the employee.
Another government employee felt the move had been implemented too hastily.
“We need this for morale to celebrate a year of hard work. These events were budgeted for,” he said.
“Why not just implement this next year.”
The cost-cutting measures were approved by the cabinet.