The highlight of Pravin Gordham’s budget speech has, undoubtedly, got to be the whopping R150 billion that he set aside for job creation to benefit the youth. This coupled with the various other capital expenditure allotments should result in improvement of livelihoods in the municipalities.
It was also gratifying to note that Treasury has identified at least R6 billion that had been lost through corruption, fraud and tax evasion. However, this is still a dismally small percentage of the astronomical figures that we lose through corruption annually.
Treasury still bemoans the rather poor uptake of infrastructural funds by municipalities and chances are that national government will root for greater central planning and management support. This is positive as a stop-gap measure but the downside is that it undermines local autonomy, especially if it becomes the new way of doing things.
The biggest concern is that our municipalities have been turned into citadels of impropriety, crony-capitalism and impunity. Chances are that much of what has been set aside for job creation and other development projects is likely to end up in a few people’s pockets. This cynicism is informed by past experiences and since there haven’t been any remarkable attempts at de-politicising our bureaucracies in the three spheres of government, one fears that it will be business as usual and the good intentions contained in this year’s budget will be thoroughly undermined.
Hopefully, the public will remain vigilant and participate actively in safe-guarding our tax money and ensuring that the local state delivers as promised.