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Mboweni: Wage bill debate must not demoralise state employees

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni repeated the need for serious conversations to be had about the country’s soaring public sector wage bill.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni at a media briefing after delivering the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on 30 October 2019. Picture: @TreasuryRSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Parliament has adopted the fiscal framework and revised revenue proposals presented by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in his Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were the only party to object.

Wrapping up the debate, Mboweni repeated the need for serious conversations to be had about the country’s soaring public sector wage bill.

But at the same time, he appealed for the debate to be handled with care, without demoralising state employees.

Mboweni spoke after the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) found themselves on the same page on the need to stabilise the country’s debt and to deal with the public sector wage bill.

Finance committee chair Joe Maswanganyi told the House that South Africa could not afford to get into a debt trap. The DA’s Geordin Hill-Lewis referred to the R6 million salary package earned by National Empowerment Fund CEO Philisiwe Mthethwa, which included a R2 milion bonus - among the 29,000 civil servants who take home more than a million rand a year.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Mboweni issued a warning: "The debate about the wage bill is a serious one, and we must handle it in a manner that does not seek to discourage civil servants because there are too many hard-working civil servants and we must show our appreciation to them because it is these hard-working South Africans who are going to carry us forward… We have some serious conversations to be had very soon, going forward, in order to resolve this problem."

Mboweni said work on structural changes at state-owned enterprises should go ahead, saying that without structural reforms, the economy would not improve.

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