SA cabinet costs three times as much as UK’s

2014-11-25 14:45

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Cape Town - The Presidency claims that splurging millions on President Jacob Zuma’s huge cabinet is necessary in order to "deliver" for the South African people.

But how do other countries compare? News24 finds out.

The news that Zumas 74 ministers and deputies cost taxpayers at least R1.6bn comes alongside warnings that Christmas is looking bleak for many; with rising unemployment, strikes and bad debts piling up.

Though ministers earn a cool R2.1m and MPs take home R933 000, the Presidency insists that the size and shape of the executive is "required to deliver on the priorities".

Perks and privilege

Comparing politicians salaries in different countries is difficult because they all receive different expenses and allowances. But the UK’s ‘expenses scandal’ in 2009 - where a number of MPs were caught out and even jailed for abusing parliamentary perks - put the spotlight on salaries worldwide.

The average MP’s salary across the countries surveyed by the UK’s Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) was just under R1.5m.

With earnings of R933 000, South African MPs earn less than the average of the developed countries surveyed by Ipsa.

However, they still earn more than MPs in France, Switzerland and Spain - where MPs earn around R919 000, R882 000 and R466 000.

Cabinet costs

Meanwhile, with earnings of R2.1m, though South Africa’s cabinet earn slightly less than their British counterparts - who earn the equivalent of R2.3m - the sheer number of them costs the country a whopping R155.m in salaries alone.

By comparison, the salaries of the UK’s 22-strong cabinet, including Prime Minister David Cameron - cost British taxpayers around R51m.

Fair pay packet

Tasked with regulating and setting new pay levels for the UK’s MPs, Ipsa said that MPs had "miserly" salaries and recommended last year that they receive a 10% pay rise to R1.2m (£74 000) by 2015.

The idea was met with a cross-party chorus of opposition from MPs themselves, who agreed it wasn't appropriate given the tough economic times.

However, Ipsa insisted it had done "rigorous" research, and that the figure wasn't just an "arbitrary number".

Though Ipsa's research did not include African nations, it found that just four other countries - the US, Australia, Italy and Japan - paid their MPs more than R1.7m.

Japan leads the pack

Japanese MPs earn a vast R2.87m - while Australian MPs are given a salary of R2m, Italian MPs with earnings of R1.95m and American legislators earn around R1.87m.

Meanwhile, Kenyan MPs - previously among the best paid in Africa - bent to public pressure last year by accepting their first pay cut.

Kenyan MPs saw their pay drop half a million rand to just under R830 000 - though only after negotiating terms for a tax-free car grant, pensions and other allowances.

*An earlier version of this article wrongly stated that the South African cabinet earns almost double the salary of their global counterparts. They earn more than double the average MP's salary, but not the average cabinet members salary.
Read more on:    parliament 2014  |  government spending

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