Address in the National Assembly Debate: Appropriation Bill (26 May 2010)

 

Mr Speaker and honourable Members,

The Bill before us represents the backbone of Government’s expressed policy for the coming year. Between what we approve here today, and what is actually delivered in services, there is a vast gulf. The failure to turn today’s budget into tomorrow’s service delivery is in essence the cause of widespread violent community protests.

Mr Speaker, as I have indicated earlier in the budget cycle, conditional grants do not resolve the problem of failure to spend budgets appropriately. At the heart of the matter is a severe lack of skills, coupled with an institutional culture that celebrates ineptitude, and turns a blind eye to cronyism and tender fraud.

National government will simply have to improve its ability to monitor the spending of provincial and local governments. It also means that National government will have to radically improve its own track record when it comes to responsible spending and meeting delivery targets. We need leadership from the front.

The continuing tolerance of poor management, as well as the widespread critical vacancies must be immediately addressed. It is these basic things which undermine the beautiful intentions of the budget process; it is also these things that create the conditions for corruption to flourish.

We are especially concerned about the numerous state-owned enterprises and entities who draw heavily upon the national revenue for support, but who have a terrible track record. The SABC to name an example, continues to benefit from taxpayer relief, whilst it stumbles from one management crisis to another. Regrettably this is true of many state-owned enterprises and agencies. Eskom is a particularly troubling case, it is a drain on the fiscus, it has undermined our economy with its failure to maintain and invest in infrastructure, it is worsening inflation with escalating rates... and unfortunately is also embroiled in dubious transactions that benefit the ruling party.

These are all illustrations of a particular culture that has seeped into every facet of governance – if we do not face up to this culture and replace it with one that celebrates competence and dedication, all policy and budgeting will be for nought.

The UDM supports the Bill.

I thank you.