PLAN TO REIN IN ROLE OF TREASURY

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

The current situation where the Treasury determines the amount to be allocated to government departments and projects could be a thing of the past in the new ANC-led government to be formed after the elections.

In an interview with Sowetan, SACP deputy general-secretary Jeremy Cronin revealed that there were discussions within the tripartite alliance about the establishment of a planning commission located in the Presidency.

Cronin said the commission would consist of representatives of government, labour, business and other members of civil society such as academics.

He said the current situation was such that "the tail is wagging the dog", with the Treasury practically telling the government how much allocation should be made and where.

"The Treasury should serve as a vigilant financial manager who determines the size of the envelope, but should not determine what allocation is made, where. This should depend on the strategic choices made by government," said Cronin.

The move is part of the drive to turn South Africa into a developmental state that is driven by a commitment to utilise its natural resources to benefit all its citizens.

Cronin said the driving motive should be that the government ensured that the cost effectiveness of its projects was enjoyed by all citizens, not only certain sectors of society.

This, Cronin argues, is currently the case where, for example, state-owned institutions like Transnet see their mandate as making transportation cheaper for business while overlooking the social needs of the broader community.

Cronin said the planning commission should comprise all sectors of society because "there is a need for a buy-in by them".

"We are a mixed economy society where business and labour play an important role, therefore it is important to get them to buy into the government's broader developmental plan."

The talk about a planning commission is a departure from previous talks about a two-tier cabinet, with a minister heading a "super-ministry" with the power to intervene in the various departments to ensure that the government's developmental plan was implemented.

"In South Africa we have a well-developed capitalist class which we must have on board if we are to achieve our developmental objectives," Cronin added.

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