Speech by Mabe Louisa Lorato, Co-Chairperson: Joint Budget Committee during the debate on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement

18 November 2008

Thanks Madam Speaker, the last MTBPS report presented before this Third Parliament reflects on the road ahead for the next Parliament and issues that it should take up to accelerate the work done by this Parliament.

"The economic slow down and the projected decline in revenue may require changes in the medium-term budget proposals. This in turn will place greater importance on domestic policies, with the need to ensure that funds are directed at those sectors and programmes which have the greatest impact on the lives of South Africans", JBC report ATC p.1.

This MTBPS makes provision for enhancing the medium term priorities although not to a large extent. Generally the committee welcomes and supports the statement but there are some issues that need to be taken on board by government. I will reflect on some of the priorities and my colleague Mr Schneeman will do the same with the other priorities.

Improving the provision of Health Services

We welcome funding for the National Health Insurance system and appeal to government to put sustainable plans in place and financial support for its proper implementation. The HSRC indicated that around 60 percent of maternal deaths are due to treatable diseases. Therefore progress in reducing maternal and infant mortality is possible if the department can put a proper implementation plan in place. These are the mothers and children that South Africa needs. Although we support the allocation of more financial resources to health, we also want to see an improvement in the supply chain management e.g. waste management and timely sourcing of medication.

Crime prevention and security

  • Integrated approach in functions of the cluster and improve cooperation to achieve their objectives. This has been lacking ? raised in 2007 MTBPS
  • More financial support to increase specialised police personnel but these should be accompanied by a visible decrease in the level of crime
  • Although financial support to build six new prisons is welcomed, JBC is not convinced that these are new projects because some were announced in the 2002 State of Nation Address by former President Mbeki.
  • Provide clear implementation plan to Parliament

Rural development and agrarian reform

  • Agrarian and land reform are integral to government's rural development, poverty alleviation and food security strategies
  • Both Land Affairs and Agriculture should increase their capacity to meet the challenges that the country faces food security and access to land
  • Improve post-settlement support and increase agricultural productivity the current 3% to 6-9% of GDP as indicated in 2007 MTBPS
  • Can increase employment and therefore a sustainable land reform and redistribution programme is urgent
  • Without capacity and consciousness of the vitality of this programme of land reform in the lives of the poor, the department of Land Affairs will not achieve the 2014 target.

Industrial development and employment creation

  • Initiatives for industrial development need a balance between promotion of competitiveness and protection of existing industries such as textiles and clothing.
  • A broader sustainable industrial strategy should be a priority because we are a country endowed with natural resources and should grow and diversify industrial development
  • We welcome the new phase of Expanded Public Works Programme that is intended to develop and transfer skills but also create longer term employment
  • Parliament be provided with an implementation plan for monitoring the new phase of EPWP
  • Despite the expanding role of SOEs and other public institutions in the economic sector there is need to review the role of these enterprises in a developmental state.
  • Government should ensure that SOE projects are closely aligned to government priorities and developmental state agenda.

Some recommendations

  • Health and Defence cooperation to make hospitals more accessible be expanded to the provision of emergency services.
  • Co-ordinated and integrated planning is paramount

Thank participants and contributors!