Finance minister Tito Mboweni's plan to curb public service wage increases and wasteful expenditure is commendable.

According to deputy finance minister David Masondo, the National Treasury hopes to achieve a R150bn spending reduction over the medium term.

This is not nearly enough given our current debt. Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi has correctly suggested that the Treasury should do an audit to determine which section of the public service is the biggest contributor to the state's bloated wage bill.

She urged the government to eliminate wastage such as claims for medical negligence and police cases of wrongful arrest and assaults, which could save the Treasury R100bn. Moreover, she correctly asserted that parliamentarians and judges are also civil servants.

Clearly, these wage bills also need to be trimmed. Losi said the Treasury should start with cutting benefits at the top. She is perfectly correct with all her contentions regarding cutting expenditure. Ministers, deputies and others in the civil service are grossly overpaid and their benefits are outrageous. The bill for mobile phones alone is currently R5bn.

Credit cards should be done away with, as should housing allowances. The culture of entitlement is unaffordable in the current fiscal and economic environment. If we fail to take ratings agency Moody’s warning seriously we will end up with a junk status rating in the new year.

Nathan Cheiman, Northcliff 

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