We would never compare ourselves to the minister of finance, but as directors of organisations who have the responsibility for an organisational budget which is a mere droplet of what the national budget is, we have a sense of the anxiety that comes with making sure that all the line items are covered and the board approves it. Our assessment of the commentary around the budget throughout the remainder of the day indicates that the national budget has been broadly approved. It would be interesting though, to hear what ordinary South African have to say about the budget, if they watched it or will read it, of course.
The budget, we feel, encapsulated the current priorities of the National Development Plan and outlined the allocation of the budget with considerate thought. Allocations to support non-governmental organisations (mentioned twice in the budget) are welcomed, given the current challenges, but also the essential services provided and contribution to the economy. It is also encouraging to note that the minister has as well highlighted the importance of dealing decisively with corruption at all levels of our society and especially within government which we believe is at the heart of non-service delivery in rural poor communities. Hopefully the establishment of the Chief Procurement Office within Treasury will go a long way in this regard. We hope that the private sector will take advantage of the introduction of a job creation incentive and provide learning opportunities for out of school youth. We are of the firm belief that civil society structures could play a meaningful role in this regard.
Depopulation of rural communities and the rapid growth of urbanisation is a concern, as it indicates the lack of economic growth in rural communities, access to social services and basic service delivery. Hopefully the new formula for local government’s equitable share will fast track development in rural communities. If the planned approach to deal with procurement issues and corruption is taken seriously and acted upon, there might be a chance for the progress projected by the budget and outlined in the National Development Plan.
We noted that women, children and the disabled are included in the budget; however we strongly feel that these were not given the prominence they deserve especially with the current crisis facing women in our country today.
Going forward, our role as the Social Change Assistance Trust will be to assist in the translation of the budget to the community-based organisations we partner with in rural communities. Creating the space for dialogue in an attempt to ensure that what the budget proposed is actioned in the most marginalised communities and the implementers are supported in their endeavours but more importantly held accountable.
The one thing that keeps recurring in our minds though is how government plans to implement what the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, proposed in his 2013 budget speech.
Social Change Assistance Trust