SAFTU and COSATU describe MTBPS as disappointing

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Labour unions have described the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) as disappointing.

They say it doesn’t take the plight of the public sector into consideration.

COSATU and SAFTU want the expansion of the public service compensation bill that would ensure more public service officials are employed to cover the gaps in service delivery in public institutions.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that R24 billion will be added to the budget this year and R74 billion over the medium term to fund the 2023/24 wage increase.

Public sector workers were anticipating a ramped up public service compensation bill that would see more people employed in the sector and existing jobs protected.

They are not convinced that the announcement by the Finance Minister on the issue will serve to instill confidence and boost the morale of public sector workers.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana says, “The implications of these adjustments will be partially offset by departments implementing the cost containment guidelines issued by the National Treasury, implementing control measures on payroll systems in line with the directive issued by the Department of Public Service and Administration, as well as implementing the recommendations from the spending reviews conducted in the past two fiscal years. Government has made a strategic decision to allocate funds to frontline sectors such as Health, Education and Police Services. Additional funding of R24 billion this year and R74 billion over the medium term will be used to fund the 2023/24 wage increase and the associated carry- through costs in these sectors.”

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana tables his MTBPS

COSATU says this was not an honest budget, however it will serve to change the cost of living.

COSATU’s Matthew Parks says, “If you look at the medium-term budget simulation it reveals that the wage bill is not out of control, it’s been declining down from 35% a few years ago to 31% in the budget today. The headcount itself has been shrinking so the crisis we are in today is because of Transnet. So, they have to fix Transnet because that will enable the mining industry which is a huge contributor of company taxes of revenue to the state and the economy. If you don’t do that, there is no amount of pickpocketing a nurse or police officer which is going to fix that.”

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) maintains that the expansion of the headcount in the public sector is necessary in closing the public servants to population ratio and increase the quality of services delivered.

SAFTU’s Trevor Shaku says, “The Minister of Finance only incorporated the 24 billion which will only cover for the wage increment that were part of the agreement struck in the PSCBC but SAFTU would have demanded that the public service compensation bill is expanded beyond wage increments but it’s expanded to accommodate the expansion of the public service headcount because the headcount needs to be expanded. There needs to be hiring of more teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, correctional service officers, more social workers so that we are able to close the ratio to population because the population has grown and need for service delivery in our view.”

Labour unions criticise the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement

At the same time, workers demonstrated in Cape Town outside the city hall maintaining that the Finance Minister will have to present a fiscal framework that will see a shift from Treasury’s tried macro-economic policies and table an aggressive budget that will protect the poor, rebuild the state and grow the economy and provide additional support to Eskom and Transnet in the future.