Lighten the payload, don’t bloat it
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.