PUBLIC Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says her department has saved taxpayers more than R10 billion from unfilled government posts.

The money has been returned to the National Treasury.

However, she expressed concern at the huge public sector wage bill. Sisulu was addressing a breakfast media briefing yesterday, which followed the passing of the Public Administration Management Bill by Parliament this week.

She said the passing of the bill, popularly known as the PAM Bill, was a “major step” in the building of an “effective, efficient and ethical” public service.

Sisulu said that when she took over the portfolio in 2012, the department faced a possible national strike by public sector unions. “Actually they had declared a dispute the day before.”

She said her department then put in place “claw-back strategies” to sort out a few inefficiencies.

Through the claw-back strategies, Sisulu said, they were able to pick up on the “inefficiencies of the state which cost us quite a lot”.

Sisulu said the strategy allowed her department to “bring back into this fiscus” some of the money that was lost either through vacant, occupied or unfunded posts.

“I can say to you now that we were able within the first year to return to the fiscus R10bn for posts that were not filled. What we do is move the R10bn we were able to bring back to the fiscus from the totality of the wage bill.

“Last year alone, in April, we were able to give to the fiscus R1.8bn, which has been some of the savings we negotiated with labour.”

Sisulu described what her department has been able to give back to the state as “phenomenal”.

She also raised concerns about the government’s wage bill, which has been described as too high by some parties and MPs.

“I’m not sure if the wage bill is escalating, the wage bill is a concern. The wage bill is a huge amount of the percentage of government expenditure. And the last time I looked at it was something like 38 percent of the budget, and we remain very concerned about it,” said Sisulu.

The minister said her department would be starting negotiations with public sector unions immediately after the elections and hoped these would be “fruitful”.