Rising wage bill threat to services, warns Nkomo-Ralehoko
Johannesburg - Gauteng finance and e-government MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko has warned that the escalating public sector wage bill is a threat to service delivery.
Nkomo-Ralehoko delivered her maiden budget speech at the Gauteng Legislature on Thursday which will see the country’s economic hub spend R457.7billion in the next three financial years - R142.4bn in 2020/21, R153.2bn in 2021/22 and R162.1bn in 2022/23.
She promised that premier David Makhura’s administration would tightly manage the wage bill in the province.
“Our view in this regard has always been driven by the realisation that unless we continuously take strong measures to manage the wage bill, the government might not be able to maintain the level of public expenditure on service delivery priorities in future,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.
According to the MEC, the province will continue to ensure that its spending is within sustainable levels.
“Gauteng has been leading the way for the past few years, by ensuring that the provincial wage bill does not exceed 60% of the total budget.”
The public sector wage bill has been a contentious issue since the government’s intention to renegotiate its agreement with employees at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), sparking outrage among unions.
Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa also weighed in on the government’s plans, saying his administration’s approach was not to dramatically cut the size of the public service but to examine the rate at which wages grow.
DA MPL Adriana Randall called on Nkomo-Ralehoko to carefully balance the budget under tough economic conditions, which means looking at cutting the public servants’ wage bill as compensation comprises almost 60% of the budget.
One of the biggest trade unions representing government employees, the Public Servants Association, said although realising the plight of the government and the economic situation the country finds itself in, it strongly rejected the plan to review the PSCBC agreement.
According to the PSA, the government has failed to address the challenges that contributed to the increased wage bill - fruitless litigation, fraud and corruption, usage of consultants, irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure and unnecessary foreign missions.
Public servants are due to receive between consumer price index plus zero, 0.5% or 1% from next month depending on salary levels in terms of the 2018 deal.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said the province introduced measures to ensure that the head of every section in each department signs off on the payroll every month to certify that the paid officials exist so that salaries could be processed for only verified employees.