The Department of Services and Administration (DPSA) has launched a new ministerial handbook for members of the executive, slashing some of the major perks offered to government ministers.
In a media briefing on Monday (9 December), DPSA minister Senzo Mchunu said that the changes have been approved by president Cyril Ramaphosa and reflect government’s ‘fiscal prudence’.
Some of the most notable changes to the handbook include:
- On the procurement of official vehicles, the cost of the vehicles is limited to R700,000 (including VAT), maintenance plans and security extras;
- Members and their partners must travel in economy class for all official domestic travel as well as international travel where the travel time is less than two hours;
- Travel by a spouse is limited to six domestic economy trips per year;
- Additional travel tickets for private use has been reduced from 30 to 20 tickets a year;
- The state will not bear any costs in respect of security upgrades done at the minister’s private residences;
- The rental of cellphones and the cost of official calls is limited to R60,000 an annum;
- The ministerial support staff has been drastically reduced;
- The state will limit its contribution towards water and lights at R5,000 a month for state-owned residences;
- The continued benefits for members upon relinquishing office is one calendar month;
- A member is allowed to occupy one state-owned resident free of charge but may rental for other properties they plan to use.
Mchunu said that similar restrictions are set to be placed in other areas of the public service – including mayors and managers.
“We are in a period that requires us to make difficult and complex decisions above our own national interest,” he said.
“Government is operating in an ever more complex and demanding environment, more so with regards to the fiscus.
“Our approach to addressing the national budget and deficit has to be collective in nature, whilst adopting a holistic approach that yields substantial and coherent gains that are sustainable over time.”
In his October medium-term budget policy statement, Finance minister Tito Mboweni said the government has to significantly reduce expenditure in goods and services as well as transfers if it is to stabilise debt by 2022/23.
In the review accompanying the MTBPS statement, the National Treasury sets out a detailed analysis of spending on public‐sector wages.
It reveals that 29,000 public servants, plus members of the national executive, Members of Parliament, members of the provincial executive, among others, each earned more than R1 million last year.
After adjusting for inflation, the average government wage has risen by 66% in the last ten years, Mboweni said.
In his speech, Mboweni also called for a reduction in Board and Executive Management compensation and benefits.
He said President Cyril Ramaphosa has agreed to guidelines which will apply to members of the Cabinet and members of provincial executives.
These include that, in the foreseeable future, Cabinet, Premiers and MECs’ salaries will be frozen at current levels, with the likelihood of an adjustment downwards.