No plans to downsize Cabinet

President Jacob Zuma says there are no plans to reduce the size of Cabinet and government.

This is according to a written reply to Parliament, in which the President responded to a question by COPE on whether he intended to take steps to reduce the size of Cabinet, due to government having added more that R1 trillion to its stock of debt since 2008 and increased the annual debt servicing costs to R100 billion.

“Despite the more than R1 trillion in debt issued to invest in infrastructure since 2008 for government and state-owned enterprises to maintain their core social and economic programmes, government has adopted a budget framework to ensure that public finances remain sustainable, and that expenditure growth does not outpace revenue growth,” said Zuma.

He said, as stated by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement last month, a considerable number of steps would be taken to implement austerity measures in government spending.

Gordhan had announced that expenditure would continue to grow in real terms, averaging 2.2% a year over the medium term (excluding interest on debt). The fiscal stance would contribute to a narrowing of the deficit, from 4.2% in the current year to 3% in 2016/17.

This will enable government to stabilise debt and begin rebuilding fiscal space to fund new priorities. Government’s contribution to improved performance in the economy and in the provision of public services is strongly focused on better use of existing resources, rather than higher expenditure.

Gordhan had also announced that government would be standardising the cost limits for official cars, stopping compensation for use of personal cars, limiting ministers to travel business class instead of first class, limiting business class travel for government officials, better contract management and developing guidelines to limit non-essential costs in advertising. Also, no new state credit cards would be issued and existing ones would be cancelled immediately.

Jacob ZumaZuma said thus, given the prudent fiscal stance adopted by government, there were no plans to reduce the size of Cabinet and government. –

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