Commenting on the Minister of Finance, Mr Nhlanhla Nene’s 2015 Budget Speech, the President of NAPTOSA, Mr Basil Manuel, said in Pretoria today that whilst the budget speech provided many positives, the Union was disappointed with the increase in taxes and the fuel levy. The Minister in his speech acknowledged the indebtedness of public servants. “The majority of these are educators, who will be ‘hit hard’ by these increases,” said Mr Manuel.  

“Noting that the public service wage negotiations are still underway, these increases are also likely to have a ripple effect on the cost of goods and services, which will impact negatively on the negotiation process,” said Mr Manuel.

Mr Manuel stated that although the Government’s statements on addressing corruption have been very impressive, these have resulted in little action. “It is time for these statements on corruption to translate into tangible action,” he added.

“It is imperative that NAPTOSA laments matters that will impact negatively on educators, but also to acknowledge the positive aspects of the Budget speech. NAPTOSA therefore welcomes the review of personnel planning to ensure that learner-teacher ratios are maintained at appropriate levels. Presently the learner-teacher ratio is not implementable in the majority of schools, for a variety of reasons, thus resulting in large class sizes of between 50 to 100 learners in some instances,” said Mr Manuel.

Mr Manuel further stated that the allocation of funds for infrastructure improvement and eradicating school infrastructure backlogs was welcomed, and NAPTOSA was pleased that the issues of unsafe schools, water, sanitation and electricity needs were catered for in this budget. NAPTOSA also welcomed the Minister's announcement that provision of public libraries, community sport programmes and sports academies would also be funded.
“The increase in the allocation to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for FET bursaries and the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme is applauded. NAPTOSA, however, cautions that ONLY deserving students should be allocated these bursaries. It is time for Government to reap returns on its Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme investment by ensuring that more than 50 percent of a cohort completes the programme and receives placement,” added Mr Manuel.

The Minister’s re-assurance to the public sector on the “stability of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF)” was welcomed by NAPTOSA as well as Government's intention to address “wasteful expenditure” in the Public Service.

Mr Manuel stated that NAPTOSA was encouraged by the fact that tax brackets, rebates and medical scheme contribution credits would be adjusted in line with inflation.

In conclusion, Mr Manuel said:  “NAPTOSA, however, needs to emphasise the issue of public servants who are severely indebted, resulting in high numbers of resignations - especially amongst educators. These educators are part of the large ‘middle class’ income group and a large percentage of them is unable to purchase their first home, hence they opt to resign to access some of their pension money as deposits towards a home. NAPTOSA is of the view that the issue of access to homes for educators, who are first-time home buyers, needs urgent high-level engagement.”