Statement regarding the Mid-term budget policy statement by the UDM Spokesperson on Finance (21 October 2008)

The ruling party is caught between two competing demands. On the one hand, it needs to make reassuring gestures to the markets to counter lingering uncertainty about policy and governance transition following the badly managed departure of former President Mbeki. On the other hand, the ANC is in election campaign mode and would be keen to use the opportunity to demonstrate concern about bread-and-butter issues that matter to the voters.

The reality of the budget process is that it is not realistic or constitutionally possible to affect any major budgetary shifts midstream through the budget cycle.

The current Executive is also an interim structure, which will be careful not to impose policy or budgetary imperatives on the incoming Executive that the ANC expects will be elected at the 2009 polls.

There is also the further need for making no sudden policy shifts since the global markets are in turmoil and developing countries, such as SA, are already suffering from a flight of foreign capital.

In the context the UDM expected a budget statement that 'holds the course', with no real changes, even though the Minister would be sure to load the announcement with grand-sounding election campaign language.

The UDM would have liked to see a clear budgetary commitment to stimulating the economy - with a view to job creation, as well as cash injections for the fight against crime and to improve the salaries and work conditions of teachers.