Government headcount to be frozen

Cape Town - A key element of Treasury’s cost cutting plan is a freeze on new government jobs for two years.

Central government has also urged the nine provinces to follow its lead.

The anticipated costs of the public servants are R440.7bn this year, but it is expected to rise to R470bn next year and then again to R501bn in 2016/17.

The average anticipated growth in the salary bill is expected to be 6.6% – which Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said was roughly in line with the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) – over the medium term.

Government at the same time is expecting to spend about R170bn a year on social welfare “protection” – a total of R500bn over the three year period.

The mini budget (Medium Term Budget Policy Statement) reported on Wednesday that “government personnel headcounts will be frozen for the next two years”.

Any increase in personnel would be funded from existing budget allocations.

Treasury acknowledged that the proposed cap of increases of 6.6% on bureaucrats’ pay would depend on the outcome of public sector salary negotiations.

“Should the outcome of wage negotiations result in faster growth in compensation for employees, corresponding adjustments will be required in other spending areas. Below-average growth is proposed for the goods and services budget,” according to the mini budget.

The Treasury, the performance monitoring and evaluation department, the public service administration department and officials from other departments “will conduct a review over the next year to consider the permanent withdrawal of funded vacancies”.

The statement said natural attrition would create space for new appointments.

“Exceptions will be considered for critical positions, with the onus on departments to justify (them),” the statement said.

Referring to the nine provinces, it said provincial governments “will be strongly encouraged to follow the same approach”.

Treasury reported it had been working with provincial treasuries to improve management of personnel spending.

As a consequence, provincial staff numbers had declined form 931 471 in December 2012 to 917 061 in August 2014.

Meanwhile social grants are expected to reach 17.3 million people by 2017/20018.

- Fin24

* Visit Fin24's Mini Budget Special for all the news.

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