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Depts urged to retain skilled staff as govt tackles skyrocketing wage bill

Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has said it is not feasible for the government to offer the early retirement option to all those who are eligible as it's unaffordable.

FILE: Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - As the date for qualifying public servants to apply for early retirement draws closer, Department of Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo says she has urged the government departments to retain its most skilled employees.

About 127,000 public servants between the ages of 55 and 59 have been offered an opportunity to apply for early retirement without penalties as of 1 April as the government tries to contain the skyrocketing wage bill which accounts for 35% of consolidated public spending.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on Friday, the minister said it is not feasible for the government to offer the early retirement option to all those who are eligible as it is simply unaffordable.

While the Treasury is aiming to make the payouts to about 30,000 employees, the likelihood of even more people applying cannot be ruled out.

And to prevent chaos in the public service and a mass exodus of its most experienced workers, Minister Dlodlo said she has directed national departments and other spheres of government to weigh the odds carefully when deciding whom they want to let go.

She admitted that this exercise would not get them anywhere near their target of substantially reducing the public wage bill.

“We are 31.2 billion above the threshold, that’s what we’d like to reduce. It’s not going to be possible but that’s the figure we all want to look at. The wage bill cannot be the second highest budget expenditure item.”

Dlodlo has also emphasised that the early retirement option was carried out within the ambit of the Public Service Act, saying there was continuous engagement with organised labour which has expressed disdain at the move.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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