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Budget presented against backdrop of protests

By Staff Writer
The presentation of the medium term budget policy statement to parliament was delayed following extended debate amongst parliamentary members regarding the #FeesMustFall campaign and whether the speech should be postponed.
 
Following this, and with the backdrop of crowds protesting outside the Parliamentary building in Cape Town, Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene delivered his speech.
 
Education
 
According to Nene, “education and skills development account for the largest share of spending.”
 
He highlighted: “We have been reminded this past week of the challenges of financing the expansion of further education and university opportunities. It needs to be said that disruption of learning is not constructive. But Minister Nzimande has rightly indicated the need to strengthen student financing further, and to find solutions where current arrangements are inadequate.”
 
No further mention was made with regards to higher education, however, Nene did elaborate on plans for basic education. “To enhance basic education, provision of learner and teacher support materials is prioritised, including workbooks to over 10 million learners each year. Basic education allocations over the MTEF increase by 8.2 per cent a year. Funds are allocated to enable early childhood development programmes to enrol a further 127 000 learners.”
 
The financial outlook
 
Nene highlighted that economic growth has slowed, while “commodity prices remain depressed and unemployment has increased in many parts of the world.”
 
In order to try and maintain “the health of the public finances and support the social and economic transformation South Africa needs,” Nene set out a framework which will assist the country in achieving this.
 
  • To strengthen economic performance, our commitment is to bring policy coherence and certainty where it is lacking; to give greater impetus to infrastructure investment and to address impediments that hold back enterprise development, employment and innovation.
  • To build the energy capacity, water and transport networks and communication systems we need, we are expanding investments by state-owned companies and the private sector, alongside departmental and municipal initiatives.
  • To ensure that public debt remains affordable, the public expenditure ceiling is maintained while protecting our flagship social and economic programmes.
  • To improve living standards and accelerate social development, we are working with municipalities to strengthen planning and concentrate investment in urban hubs and economic growth zones. More dynamic cities, new businesses, trade opportunities and better transport systems also mean stronger linkages with smaller towns and market opportunities for agriculture and rural enterprises.
  • To enhance state capacity and the quality and integrity of governance, our financial management and procurement reforms will be reinforced, while stepping up public sector training and institutional renewal.
  • To unite South Africans behind more rapid implementation of the National Development Plan, we are working with the business sector, organised labour and social stakeholders to maintain a stable labour relations environment, improve confidence and promote broad-based development.

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