Just a few days after the 2015/16 budget speech, various government departments published adverts in the state owned publication, Daily News inviting qualified citizens to apply for job placements on a ‘part time’ basis. The Friday edition of the paper listed various ministries, amongst them State President, Education, Minerals, Lands, Infrastructure, Defence, Agriculture, Health and Youth as having vacancies available on part time basis.
The list of the professional jobs include those in the field of medicine, teaching services, legal administration, public relations, geomantic, arts and systems analysts. The new recruitment drive comes at a time when government has been battling to reduce the public service wage bill, as international organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank sounded warning bells. The public service wage bill has been steadily creeping up, despite a freeze on public sector recruitment over the past five years.
A public expenditure analysis carried-out by the Sunday Standard shows that though government employment has been growing very slowly, most of the increase in spending has been due to higher average earnings, despite the supposed wage freeze. The wage bill reduction was suggested by American based International Monetary Fund a few years back.
Sunday Standard’s review of the government spending pattern on its employees shows that average personal emoluments paid to public sector employees rose from P6, 094 per month in 2009/10 to P9, 253 per month in 2012/13, reflecting an increase of 52 percent. At the same time, available figures shows that over the four financial years from 2009/10 to 2012/13, total government spending on personal emoluments which include salaries and allowances rose from P9.25 billion to P14.55 billion, an increase of 57 percent.
Econsult economist, Thabelo Nemaorani said Friday that the decision to engage part time employees could be a strategic move by the government to cut down on the public service wage bill.
“The wage bill has been a headache to government for the past few years,” he said.
In a brief interview on Friday, Ruth Maphorisa, government’s chief employer, admitted that the decision to engage part time employees was made to save costs associated with full time employment.
“We have been spending too much on payment of overtime allowances to full time employers. We could easily reduce costs associated with full time employers by engaging those who are unemployed on part time basis,” she said.
The new drive however follows projections made in 2014 that the public service wage bill will reach over 14.4 billion, reflecting an upward movement of 1.6 percent during the 2014/15 financial year. Sunday Standard understands that the increase in overall spending was largely driven by personal emoluments, which account for the largest share of recurrent expenses of over 30 percent. On Friday, Maphorisa said the decision to engage employees on part time basis will benefit sectors such as agriculture whose jobs are seasonal. She further noted that government made that decision to also to help arrest the level of unemployment in the country. Currently the rate of unemployment stands at 19.8 percent according to the minister responsible for finance and development planning.