As the grim realities of this nation’s economic situation came rolling out one by one during Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech, it evidently dawned on the members of parliament that they are not too far off the new tax margin.
Gordhan announced that those privileged folk who earn upwards of R1.5 million a year will have to fork out more to the Receiver of Revenue.
It gave Gordhan, whose declaration of his own private assets and investments would more than likely put him into the 45% bracket under the new “wealth tax” – even without his R2 309 262 ministerial salary – pause for a wry tongue-in-cheek aside.
He told a rapt assembly of backbenchers, who take home R1 033 438 in annual salary, that they should have been applauding rather than sitting in silence.
While this should not be construed as a dig at the salaries paid to MPs, it did serve to reignite the issue of parliamentary pay cheques.
These have come under harsh criticism in many quarters as being vastly overinflated for what some members of the House of Assembly contribute during debates.
It also once again highlighted the disparities in pay which continue to prevail between the political elite and the pool of poor below their ranks.