New data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that South Africa’s civil servants are some of the best paid in the world when considering the relative size of the economy.
The report shows that public sector wage increases are the main driver of government spending rather than increases in employment.
In the last decade, the number of public sector employees rose only by around 100,000, but public sector employment is close to OECD average but relatively high when compared to emerging economies.
“In real terms, per capita remuneration in the public sector rose by 3.1% on average annually, and by even 4.1% for civil servants with long tenure (more than 10 years) in the last decade.”
It added that wage negotiations have systematically granted above-inflation increases.
“Moreover, promotion policies contributed to wage bill increases. In 2006/07, 31% of public servants were in the salary levels 1–4 and 10% in the levels 9–16; by 2017 the respective figures were 19% and 21%.
“In addition, occupation-specific salary dispensations (OSD) have been introduced for specialised personnel, including medical doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, lawyers, magistrates and engineers allowing for extra pay for these categories.
“In some cases, this led to substantial increases in remuneration in the year of their introduction,” the OECD said.
The OECD said that top managers in the South African civil service earn an average revenue corresponding to nine times of the GDP per capita in 2017, while the ratio is below six for the OECD average.
Compared in terms of US dollar purchasing power parity (PPP), the remuneration of South African public sector managers is comparable to their counterparts in Norway.
Even for non-management senior officials, teachers and education personnel, South Africa has one of the highest levels of remuneration both in terms of GDP per capita and US dollar PPP, the group said.