pandorBusinessLive reports that the government is forging ahead with plans to trim the size of its diplomatic missions as it battles to cut costs and return SA to financial health.  

Without providing timelines, international relations minister Naledi Pandor said in parliament last week that her department was undertaking a process of rationalisation of its foreign missions.  “Staff reductions have been introduced as part of this process, the department has established a task team on the ‘Repositioning of SA’s Global Presence’. The task team has produced a draft report with a set of recommendations. The draft is being considered,” Pandor indicated.  According to budget documents tabled in parliament in February, an estimated 45.6% (R9.8bn) of the Department of International Relations & Co-operation’s total expenditure over the medium term is earmarked for compensation of employees. Spending on compensation of employees is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 5.9%.  An analysis by the Treasury found that SA’s cost-of-living allowances for its diplomatic staff were 60% higher than those paid to US staff and 40%-50% higher than those for UN staff, who also pay their own accommodation, unlike SA staff.

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