Lighten the pay­load, don’t bloat it

CityPress - - Voices -

Against the back­drop of the scram­ble to find the funds to push through free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion comes the an­nounce­ment by the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion for the Re­mu­ner­a­tion of Pub­lic Of­fice Bear­ers that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his Cabi­net, MPs, pre­miers and their MECs, may­ors and coun­cil­lors, judges, kings and chiefs will re­ceive a 4% wage hike this year, again bloat­ing the coun­try’s wage bill.

The pres­i­dent, his Cabi­net and all of­fice bear­ers would be wise to re­ject a wage in­crease, if not for their own sense of so­ci­etal moral­ity, then to al­low this money to go some­way to al­le­vi­at­ing the stress on the na­tional fis­cus.

In a coun­try where the na­tional poverty line is ex­pand­ing daily, why should so much be paid to so few. In the last na­tional bud­get, a full half of ex­pen­di­ture was set aside to pay the state wage bill, and with wage talks with pub­lic sec­tor unions loom­ing this would be a good ex­am­ple to set.

The coun­try is scram­bling to bal­ance it’s fi­nances. Rev­enue col­lec­tion is pro­jected to fall R51 bil­lion short, rat­ings agen­cies down­grades are loom­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing is mori­bund, jobs are be­ing lost. We need to save money not spend it.

How­ever, this is just not hap­pen­ing, and the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral last week re­ported that ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture soared to al­most R46 bil­lion in the 2017 fi­nan­cial year.

The gov­ern­ment needs to come up with a plan to re­turn the coun­try to growth. How­ever, noth­ing seems to be in the pipeline to achieve this.

Pub­lic sec­tor work­ers are in essence seek­ing a salary in­crease of 7 per­cent­age points above con­sumer in­fla­tion, which increased by up to 5.1% in the year to Septem­ber.

At the end of the day, wage in­creases for pub­lic sec­tor work­ers will be paid for by all tax­pay­ers.

There­fore, shouldn’t pub­lic sec­tor work­ers align their wage de­mand with the state of the econ­omy and not ex­pect tax­pay­ers to bear the cost?

If the lead­er­ship of our na­tion, those that are elected to rep­re­sent us, truly lead by ex­am­ple, the de­mands by unions may per­haps not be so oner­ous.

If the lead­er­ship mes­sage was all for one and one for all, our coun­try may well be in a dif­fer­ent place.

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