Mid-term budget requires strong action in provinces and by all citizens

Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni deliver​s his Medium-Term Budget Speech in parliament in Cape Town.
Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni deliver​s his Medium-Term Budget Speech in parliament in Cape Town.
Image: Esa Alexander

 

The challenging economic outlook and steps needed to start rebuilding the SA economy show that, despite differing views, government at all tiers, business and all citizens now have to roll up their sleeves to rehabilitate the economy.

Implementation of the finance minister’s pronouncements will depend on strong actions in the provinces, starting with efforts around clean and corrupt-free local government administrations. The next steps will be the willingness of business to invest in the economy, followed by individual actions which include economic involvement – which can help to shift the needle of the country’s economy.

The starting point is clean and corrupt-free governance, which requires strict adherence to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), among many regulations. These regulations, while empowering leaders to manage the funds and hold role players accountable, are only a beginning – leaders will need individual and personal commitment to ethical standards. Clean governance required to take the country forward, has to go beyond the tick box of PFMA or MFMA requirements – it is a personal choice and commitment!

Leaders in government and all spheres of society should always act responsibly and do their best in their respective roles. While the legal processes will hopefully deal with individuals suspected of wrongdoing, our society in general also needs to have less tolerance for politicians, leaders or members of society with questionable ethics.

Each South African has a very important role in the future of our country. The day-to-day actions of South Africans does have an impact, whether it is looking for a job or starting a business – when one makes an effort to uplift themselves and take advantage of opportunities or that government have put in place, that contribution means that resources can be directed to other individuals requiring needed support from the state.

The commitments of the budget speech around social upliftment is another reassurance of the government’s commitment to the poor. At provincial levels with the assistance of local government institutions, the leaders will be required to ensure that the services initiatives such as social housing, food relief and support to access free education or student housing are conducted with speed and efficiency to ensure that they are to the benefits of all South Africans.

The medium-term budget policy statement places a strong focus on capacity building as well as economic growth. At the provincial level, the task is to detail the practical tasks that provincial governments focus on immediately and in the medium to long term. The success in this is about building trust between government and its people, it is about moving beyond the turmoil that the people of North West have experience in the last few years.

Minister Tito Mboweni’s medium-term budget policy statement challenges the provinces to strengthen their capacity and service delivery efforts, urging them to focus on building the economy and create jobs. Provinces can only do so when they entrench proper systems backed by financial discipline.

Lastly, part of the provincial efforts will be to focus on the performance of municipalities – many of whom were on the brink of collapse in the last five years. Using the audit outcomes, together with capacity-building efforts, the provinces can significantly improve their service delivery to their citizens.

Rosho is a member of the executive committee of the North West provincial government, responsible for finance.

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