Both the 2009 and 2010 Budgets can rightly be called crisis budgets. They were released during a recession and its immediate aftermath, amidst large-scale job-losses in the South African economy and a great deal of uncertainty around the pace of global and domestic recovery. Though we are not yet out of the woods, the economic backdrop to the 2011 Budget does look more favourable, and a note of cautious optimism seems appropriate now.
The 2011 budget sets out to ensure, among other things, that government can intensify activities that make a difference to the lives and prospects of all South Africans. He used the word ‘dignity’ at least four times in his speech. To a large degree Mr Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Finance, has gone a long way to give something to everyone. In particular the various initiatives that provide for a boost to employment opportunities for the youth deserve to be applauded.
Balancing Social Spend with a Developmental Agenda is Key to our Country’s Success
The South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) welcomes Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's steady leadership and courage to forge ahead with social spending, notwithstanding the local and global economic climate. We are particularly encouraged by the Minister's pragmatism in ensuring “development first rather than dependence on social security”.
There was nothing inherently wrong with the way funds have been allocated to sectors in the budget. South Africa has been fortunate not to have been badly affected by the recession. It has an abundance of resources compared to other countries in Africa. The problem lies in a lack of ideas, a lack of a sense of how to tackle unemployment. South Africa’s major challenge is about a failure of vision, a lack of capacity, and a damaged social fabric (eroded by greed and self-enrichment). Unless dealt with decisively, funds will continue to be poorly utilised.
Another year, again only one extra slice of bread per day for our children
Welfare organisations in Gauteng are disappointed at the lack of any reference in Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech to measures that would bring relief to our struggling social welfare service system. While such provision may yet - and we sincerely hope it will - appear in the Gauteng provincial budget, there is an urgent need for a ring-fenced allocation from the National Treasury to assist each province to properly finance core services delivered by non-profit organisations.
As always, I listened with keen interest to the Budget Speech. There was a lot of good news. For example, a focus on the youth and job creation. These are all things that are vitally important, and which need urgent attention from our Government. I do not pretend to be a financial expert, so a lot of it goes over my head.