We need more service, not consultants

2015-02-22 15:00

How many consultants does it take to screw in a light bulb? Several billions’ worth if our government is doing the hiring, it would seem.

Our story on the amount of public money lavished on filling the coffers of consultancies makes for depressing reading.

Read: State blows R30bn on consultants

You know we have a problem when a single national department – in this case, defence – spends more than R3.3?billion on consultants in one financial year.

Our provincial governments are not far behind either. KwaZulu-Natal dropped a whopping R5?billion across its various departments, with the biggest chunk of that dedicated to the provincial roads department. That’s a lot of “technical oversight”.

It’s a no-brainer why so many consultants are necessary: a combination of a lack of skills, experience and just plain poor management in our public service.

But the splurge on consultants is particularly disturbing coupled with another fact – the astonishing rise in the wage bill for public servants who should be doing the job. It makes up one of the biggest chunks of the budget, yet we’ve created a parallel layer of contractors to seemingly get the work done.

The mushrooming of government departments and staff, thanks to President Jacob Zuma, hasn’t helped either, creating untold headaches for our department of finance, which has warned on the public servant wage bill and the excessive spending on consultants.

The one without the other is embarrassing enough.

But to continue growing the public service wage bill while throwing billions at consultants is simply unconscionable.

It shows a cavalier attitude towards the hard-earned tax cash the public contributes to making this country work.

Our government needs to show far more acumen – and care – about how it spends our money.

Theirs is the business of service delivery, not making consultants rich.

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