Umcebo Trust Comments on the 2010/11 Budget

Thursday, 18 February, 2010 - 11:27

Firstly, our Minister of Finance seems to have presented a very prudent budget, with mention of social spending, and a caution to us, to not incur unnecessary debt. Once you move on from this, I find myself asking the same questions that I have with the budgets of the previous two years. These all revolve around the fact that the right noises are being made at a macro level, but this is once again a case of will these budget line items be effectively translated into a better way of life for the South Africans we work with on a daily basis. I can only base my answer on what has happened in the past, and to me the answer is probably no.

Umcebo Trust Comments on the 2010/11 Budget

The Budget - A Case of Financial Faith Healing

Firstly, our Minister of Finance seems to have presented a very prudent budget, with mention of social spending, and a caution to us, to not incur unnecessary debt. Once you move on from this, I find myself asking the same questions that I have with the budgets of the previous two years. These all revolve around the fact that the right noises are being made at a macro level, but this is once again a case of will these budget line items be effectively translated into a better way of life for the South Africans we work with on a daily basis. I can only base my answer on what has happened in the past, and to me the answer is probably no.

Our budget is full of wonderful notions and intentions, but once the line items are allocated to the various levels of government, then the rot seems to set in. Those who are given budgets to allocate, particularly on social spending, seem at best incapable, and at worst unwilling, to process forms and allocated monies to make an effective difference at grassroots level.

The situation is also being worsened by the fact that no capacity is being created in government to ensure effective implementation and allocation. Those tasked with allocating money, in many cases, seem to care very little about the fact that they are not being effective, as they are already eyeing out the next position further up the ladder, so by the time they are discovered, they will be somewhere else, and essentially unaccountable. A new person will replace them, and so the cycle is repeated.

The above are not popular views to express. Many will call me a pessimist for saying this, but the fact that I am saying this is an indication of my faith in this country and its people at a grassroots level. Until we have a fundamental overhaul of the structures used to allocate monies in budgets, these budgets will essentially be a leap of faith - that we except will change the lives of the poorest of the poor, when their daily experience for the past how many years tells them otherwise.

I salute the budget like I do each year. Do I think that it will make the lives of my crafters any better, and improve my abilities to assist them, probably not.

Robin Opperman
Director
Umcebo Trust

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