The new Minister of Finance is Pravin Gordhan, he took over from Trevor Manuel in May 2009. Today the 27th of October 2009 he presents his first budget statement, the Medium Term Budget Policy statement. The results have been embargoed until after 2pm today but the eyes of the country and the world will be on him today. It will be the first real indication of where his incumbency will take us. The key areas that could be affected are:
- The deficit - will it widen?
- Infrastructure spending
- Social security funding
The deficit was kept in control under the austerity programme of Manuel and any changes could indicate a shift in policy to further spending. The World Cup in 2010 will be a big money spinner and we can possibly relax our spending discipline in light of that, although the World Cup is on a short period its effects will be felt for some time after particularly in terms of the infrastructure spending that has developed around it. It isn't all stadiums though as energy infrastructure is ailing.
Social security becomes a big bug bear of many commentators mainly due to ideological stances. The truth is countries with strong social networks have the ability to do better than countries where people get left by the way side, the question should not be social spending but where is the social spending going and will the programmes have a tangible effect on those who need it most. All of the questions should be addressed in the speech to Parliament today. While the Minister is working on his budget, have you planned your personal budget yet?