If the government of South Africa is truly serious about reducing expenditure, let there be a reduction in the size of the cabinet and legislature. Also, let the salaries of Ministers and MPs be slashed, says the Congress of South African Trade unions (Cosatu).
That, according to Cosatu, is what the government ought to be looking at instead of the freezing of civil servant posts as proposed by the Treasury in the medium term budget policy statement (MTBPS).
Matthew Parks, Cosatu’s parliamentary liaison officer tabled the demand while he was making a presentation at the public hearings of Parliament’s finance committees on the MTBPS.
Parks argued that the reduction of an estimated 25‚000 civil service posts over the next three years would toughen the unemployment crisis.
He indicated that the Congress of Trade Unions is concerned that the demands of rating agencies reign supreme over those of 8-million unemployed South Africans.
“If government wants to reduce the public wage bill then it should reduce the exorbitant packages paid to national and provincial cabinets, members of Parliament, judges and senior management in the parastatals.
“Government can reduce the size of national and provincial cabinets and the number of members of parliament and provincial legislatures. That is where the fat can be found‚ not amongst poorly paid nurses‚ teachers‚ cleaners and police officers,” stated Parks.
Thereafter, he related that Cosatu is appreciative of Treasury’s effort to prioritize social and service delivery expenditure, the government’s effort to manage public debt and the quest to maintain social expenditure above inflation levels.
However, he said, “we do not see any shift in the MTBPS that will enable government to decisively reduce unemployment. We remain concerned that the expenditure ceilings will have a negative impact upon government’s ability to deliver… Essentially this is a business as usual and consolidation approach. It will not resolve the fundamental underlying crises facing the economy.”
Also, he warned that increase in VAT rate would expose the poor to more hardship. “Government should rather increase taxes upon the wealthy, luxury goods and non-essential imports,” added Parks.