Gordhan: Government 'ghosts' must go

2012-10-25 15:36 - Carien du Plessis - City Press
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Johannesburg - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said it’s likely that the state is employing “ghosts”, and these had to go so that the country could save money on its ever-increasing salary bill.

Speaking to journalists ahead of the tabling of his medium-term budget policy statement in parliament on Thursday, Gordhan said Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and himself would establish whether there were "still ghosts in the public service" and weed them out.

"There are a number of surplus staff in public service who are not deployed to work."

He said this as an extra R5.48bn had to be set aside in Thursday’s adjustments budget for a "higher than expected personnel remuneration increase cost" due to above-inflation increases given to civil servants earlier this year after extensive negotiations.

He said cuts would be made in the salary budget by looking at overtime, "notches [higher job grades] granted without purpose", and whether there were too many administrators and not enough frontline staff, such as doctors and nurses, in the health department.

Gordhan told journalists ahead of the tabling that the upside of the salary negotiations was that the increases in public servants' salaries was fixed for the next two years, which meant "at least we now have certainty going forward".

On the effect that the recently mooted freezing of government salaries would have on tax income, Gordhan said this had not been calculated yet. He suggested that the project could be scrapped if the costs proved too high.

"It depends on where the cut-off point is [for salary freezes] and how many people are in that income group,” he said.

Gordhan said the team of business, government and labour leaders which gathered last week to talk about the economy and the salary freezes would “come up with the calculations”.

He said the impact “will not be too catastrophic” but he said government would have to decide "whether we want to take that knock in [tax] revenue at the time".

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