by Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL – DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs
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Date: 06 March 2019
The provincial budget presented today by outgoing MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism, Mac Jack, was just an empty regurgitation of promises already made and never met by the failing ANC. It consisted of ANC slogans strung together until it seemed, at times, if the MEC had gotten lost on his way to a political rally.
A provincial budget should speak to the needs and aspirations of all the people in the province, not just the select few who are connected in a network of political patronage. By insisting on driving home only points raised by card-carrying members of the ANC, Jack proved that the ANC remains a broken bus incapable of delivering growth, development and job creation to the Northern Cape.
Furthermore, Jack’s deliberate attempts to mislead the House and the public on the state of the provincial finances seriously undermine the credibility of the budget.
You cannot claim that the province is in good financial health when accruals reached R1.4 billion at the end of the previous financial year, with cumulative unauthorised expenditure at R903 million and legal claims continuously increasing. Outstanding debts such as accruals have to be settled. And when you pay debts from 2017 using the money you get in 2018, you immediately create a budget deficit which will impact on the delivery of goods and services in 2018 and beyond.
Jack’s response to the questions I asked him during the Finance Committee briefing on the averments he made regarding the provincial financial health in the budget, is simply not sufficient and just reveals that he does not fully comprehend the fiscal threats the province faces. As was discussed at the NCOP Select Committee on Finance last year already, instability in senior management makes it difficult to implement corrective actions, such as interventions formulated in terms of section 18 of the Public Finance Management Act at the Northern Cape Department of Health.
What is the purpose of having systems which are ultimately not implemented?
And saying that accruals are an everyday occurrence is a dangerous underestimation of the threat. Our total appropriation for 2019/20 is just over R18 billion, of which we will have to pay R1.4 billion to settle government’s debts. We simply cannot afford to continue creating our own cycle of neverending budget deficits.
With his own involvement in corrupt dealings, as reported by the premier to the Hawks, Jack lacks any credibility to talk about fighting corruption. Corruption continues to steal the money meant for services and yet he has the audacity to proclaim that there is a “record of fiscal discipline” in the province. If you follow this illogical train of thought, residents of the Northern Cape should consider themselves lucky that cumulative irregular expenditure is only at R10.8 billion as it could easily have been R20.8 billion instead!
While we support the ongoing support of SMMEs, we continue to remain concerned about the lack of transparency and clarity around funding processes. Within the funding environment created by the ANC, entrepreneurs continue to receive support based on their political connections rather than the economic strength of their business plans and are sometimes strongarmed into paying kickbacks to government officials.
These practices must stop.
Jack not only missed an opportunity to implement measures which can achieve this goal, but also lost the chance to clearly define what is meant by local procurement.
We already know that some provincial departments and municipalities exploit loose definitions of localisation by procuring goods and services from elsewhere in South Africa, but still claiming that the goals of local procurement have been achieved. This deceit is to the detriment of our local and regional economies.
Jack’s budget also lacked any credible strategies for stimulating growth in sectors which form the bedrock of the Northern Cape economy and for nurturing growth in sectors like tourism which can contribute even further to our provincial growth. The ANC is fond of bragging about the allocation of renewable energy projects to the Northern Cape, for example, but conveniently forgets that 70% of green energy manufacturing is being done in the Western Cape. This is, according to Moody’s, the fastest growing green energy sector in the world and establishes the Western Cape as the renewable energy hub of the country.
It is only the Democratic Alliance which can bring about the change needed for the provincial economy so that we can secure a job in every home. It is only the Democratic Alliance which can turn this bus around and steer us back in the direction of fiscal sustainability, growth and development.
Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs
082 302 2117 / 079 874 6179
071 251 5558