Wednesday’s budget confirmed what we already know — the state’s finances are in such a state of decay only extraordinary action can save us from an economic disaster. There are many reasons why we got to where we are. We know of the plunder, corruption and good, old-fashioned incompetence. But of all these reasons, the stranglehold organised labour has over the governing party must count as the single most important reason for the collapse of the state’s finances. The budget, which plans to spend R1.827-trillion (consolidated) over the next financial year, is also a budget that plans to employ roughly 2.25-million people (by our estimates) to spend this money, equal to an average of R811,801 per public servant. Of this R1.827-trillion, R627bn will be used to pay for their labour, which leaves R533,078 per public servant to be utilised on other goods and services provided by the state. Since the financial crisis of 2008 total state spending has risen by 171%, while the wage bill has ...

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