There is no urgency for the government to conclude an agreement with public sector trade unions on a reduction in the wage bill before the February budget, a senior Treasury official said on Friday.

Commentators on the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) tabled in parliament in October by finance minister Tito Mboweni questioned the government’s ability to reach an agreement by February to fulfil the undertaking to reduce the public sector wage bill by R150bn over three years. The credibility of this proposal was questioned given the limited time available to finalise a wage deal.

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