Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will present the medium-term budget policy statement to Parliament on Wednesday. Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Parliament - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni must in his medium-term budget policy statement present a credible plan to contain the national budget deficit and this will require deep cuts to the public wage bill, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

"This must be the primary goal of the speech if the government is to retain (and hopefully, reclaim) creditworthiness and the global credibility that is so central to attracting investment. Equally important, this must be the goal of the speech if the government is to save essential public services from collapse," DA MP and finance spokesman Geordin Hill-Lewis said on Monday.

Hill-Lewis said the DA had an alternative plan to save the state R235.85 billion over the three-year MTEF period, which included R168 billion in cuts to the public wage bill.

In order to achieve this, it would cut 9 200 of the most highly-paid office management posts in the public service and put a three-year wage freeze on all non-occupation specific dispensation wages,

Hill-Lewis said the government has over the past year made ambitious commitments to reform but this has not been matched by action because it has shown itself incapable of making decisions.

"As a result, the economy is not growing nearly fast enough to make a dent on poverty and unemployment. We expect growth projections to be revised downwards again. This also means that revenue targets will be missed, as VAT and corporate receipts collapse."

He stressed that the number of South Africans who are looking for work has grown by almost 600 000 over the last year to 10.2 million.

"Growth, and only growth can get South Africa out of the vicious fiscal cycle it is now in. If we are to save the public services that the poor and the public-at-large depend on, the minister and the president must realise that they can no longer continue putting off the difficult decisions needed to turn around the economy.

"The delay in implementing real economic reforms to get the economy growing means the government now faces a stark choice. Either it can save basic services, or it can save public sector jobs. It is no longer possible to do both."

Mboweni will table the medium-term budget policy statement on Wednesday.

African News Agency (ANA)