GPG faces uphill battle to keep wage bill at 60%

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes the announcement by the MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko that the public servant’s wage bill will be capped at 60%, and that no employee salaries will be cut. This is also an undertaking she gave to the unions.

Currently, the wage bill according to the MEC is at 55%, however, the DA can confirm that the actual wage bill is at 58% or R82,568bn. This is according to the Gauteng Provincial Spending per economic classification details for the 2020/21 Financial Year.

The MEC has also indicated that she has directed all departments to conduct a skills audit to ascertain, exactly what skills each employee has.

This will help ensure that the right person with the right skills is employed by government and will also give the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) an idea of what and where critical skills vacancies exist.

The DA, however, is concerned that once the skills audit is complete, the GPG will not be able to keep the wage bill below 60%.

Currently one of the stumbling blocks in filling critical skill vacancies is that government does not offer a competitive salary. This is one of the reasons why there is a severe shortage of Big Data Analysts and Cyber Security Specialists in the e-Government department for example.

We note increased budgets allocated for consultants in five departments of the Gauteng Provincial Government, of which the Department of Roads and Transport had the biggest increase. This is also indicative of a shortage of suitable skills internally and must be addressed urgently by the skills audit as called for by the MEC.

The establishment of additional advisory panels by departments and the Office of the Premier will also mean that more salaries will have to be paid. Take for example the 4th Industrial Revolution Advisory panel that will be established in the Office of the Premier.

I will be tabling questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain when the skills audit will commence with end dates,  and what measures are being put in place to ensure that critical skills vacancies are filled without inflating the wage bill. The DA will also be monitoring this process to ensure that qualified and experienced personnel are employed.