|Response to 2006 national budget - media statement by UDM Spokesperson for Finance (15 February 2006)|
|Overall the National Budget can be
described as relatively good, mostly on
the back of a growing economy and another year of better-than-expected
revenue collection by SARS.
Particular features of the Budget that the UDM welcome are the anti-corruption initiatives and the specific tax relief aimed at pensions, homeowners, small businesses and low income earners. The anti-corruption initiative will of course depend on political will and efficient implementation. A further welcome initiative is the implementation "task force" that will assist weak administrations with infrastructure and service delivery projects.
A number of problematic areas remain however. The failure to spend all allocated funds bedevils the best of delivery intentions. Especially at Provincial and Local level shortages of skills and capacity, as well as mismanagement, nullify increasing budgets and shares of revenue. This is at the heart of many incidents of community protests. The real growth of social grants cannot be said to adequately address the real cost of living and therefore poverty will not be significantly reduced by this Budget.
It was also disappointing that the Minister did not use the opportunity of the Budget Speech to mention the importance of rural development - which affects the majority of the poor. In the same vein, the Minister neglected to mention and emphasise the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which constitutes one of the single biggest threats to the future success of this country and that has the potential to undo all the positive economic developments of the past ten years. This is indicative of a lack of political will on crucial challenges facing the country.