Chairperson, Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister, Honourable Members,
Once more, Budget Vote 10 is delivered against the backdrop of severe economic challenges facing the world today. It takes place at a time when some economies around the world are making a slow economic recovery, while others are still in economic deepfreeze.
We acknowledge that appropriate economic policy responses have been undertaken in order to place the country on a path to economic growth and prosperity. However, challenges remain.
South Africa is still grappling with a chronic unemployment problem, especially among the youth.
The current economic growth rate of approximately 2 per cent per annum is not sufficient to save the poor from the yoke of poverty.
The low economic growth does not only negatively affect job creation, but it also means less money for Government to deliver services to our people. Hence the need for the 4 per cent budget deficit to finance the country’s development needs.
To make matters worse, big businesses and wealthy individuals devise all manner of strategies to both avoid and evade tax. This needless to say erodes the same tax base from which the revenue for service delivery must come.
I am aware that plans are afoot to deal with this problem. We however wish to add our voice in calling for tough sanctions to be imposed on the culprits.
It is going to be difficult to address spatial gaps and inequalities, when State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) seem to lack the capacity to spend funds allocated for infrastructure development.
You are aware as I already indicated in the Public Enterprises Budget Vote that over the past two years, SOEs s over the past two years spent approximately 70 per cent of the funds committed to infrastructure development. In addition, in far too many cases the quality of the basic human settlements infrastructure leaves much to be desired.
Drastic steps should be taken to improve the capacity of the Departments responsible for implementing Government’s job creation and service delivery.
We have to double our efforts to ensure that with increased budget allocations come commensurate rises in our people’s standards of living.
We are concerned that Government’s debt and deficit reduction programme seems to principally depend on optimistic economic growth forecasts.
Output growth in South Africa has been sluggish for quite some time and judging by Government’s failure to achieve past targets, we are not convinced that the new targets will be achieved.
The UDM believes that output growth forecasts should be realistic so that we can begin the process of setting the country’s finances on a path to fiscal consolidation.
The UDM supports Budget Vote 10.