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President Cyril Ramaphosa's annual salary and benefits increased from R2,989,845 to R3,079,540. File photo: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa's annual salary and benefits increased from R2,989,845 to R3,079,540. File photo: GCIS

Parliament has defended a 3% salary increase for MPs and ministers, saying public servants earn less than to their counterparts around the world.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week accepted recommendations by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-Bearers to increase the salaries of politicians and other government officials by 3%.

Ramaphosa said in a government gazette the increases would be backdated to April 2021 and will apply to all categories of public office-bearers, including ministers and their deputies, premiers, MECs, MPs, MPLs, traditional leaders and judges. 

The increases has drawn criticism from the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), which said said it was unfair to struggling public service workers.

Cosatu publicly called on Ramaphosa to reject the “tone deaf and embarrassing” recommendations.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement, that ministers, MPs, and MPLs last received salary increases in April 2019, and that the remuneration of public office bearers needed to be adjusted to enable them to cope with the rising cost of living.

“While it is understandable that remuneration of public representatives would often spark a public debate given the transparency with which they are processed, constant scrutiny over their work as well as the socio-economic challenges faced by the country, it must be appreciated that they do not determine their own remuneration,” he said. 

“Unlike in other countries, MPs do not play any role in the process of determining either their salaries or annual increments.”

SA's public representatives do not earn more than their counterparts in similar countries, Mothapo added.

“A desktop survey suggests that SA public representatives do not earn anywhere higher than those of countries with similar GDP and population, among other considerations.

“It is also worth noting that as an additional safeguard, unlike in several other countries, SA MPs are barred from undertaking any other remunerative responsibilities outside their parliamentary work. Should they take up such work, they are obligated to declare it for scrutiny in terms of the ethics code,” he said. 

He said salaries of MPs are published as a total remuneration package and not cost-plus benefits.

“For example, if an ordinary MP earns say R1.1m per annum, that includes the basic salary, a flexible portion, a travel allowance, a political office-bearers’ allowance, and a contribution to the pension fund.

“Other deductions that will be taken from the salary includes (Pay as You Earn) tax, medical aid, party contributions, village accommodation and others authorised by the individual MP such as a [mortgage] bond or car instalment,” Mothapo said.

TimesLIVE 

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