The Eastern Cape NGO Coalition welcomes the strong focus in this year’s budget on building the economy through investing in young people. Focusing on youth is a forward looking approach to developing this country’s future for all its people. Young people are the cornerstone of building a sustainable country as we continue to grow our democracy.
The focus on fast tracking the employment and employability of young people by enabling access to quality education and skills building whilst ensuring that businesses bring on board young talent are important pillars for supporting the participation of young people in building the economy.
However, there are gaps and areas of concern in the budget that need serious consideration, such as:
Budget allocations to organisations such as NYDA, meant to promote the objectives of supporting youth employment and skilling, need to be carefully monitored to ensure that the funds allocated are used effectively.
The budget prioritises the growing and sustaining of the formal economy through employment, by the business sector. Whilst this is important, studies have shown that the civil society sector, particularly NGOs and CBOs tend to absorb a lot of the unemployed people who then contribute to community development, often providing services where government is unable to reach. CSOs provide the many volunteers who carry out services such as home-based care and various community projects throughout the country and especially in rural areas. The budget failed to reflect how support will be provided to this important sector that is fading fast as a result of decreasing support from donors.
We believe that development in a country is not only about creating jobs, but also about creating a sense of community involvement and commitment. Methodologies exit within civil society that promotes work within communities to ensure that communities develop plans that relate to how they believe development should be effected and how they will contribute to community development. We believe that government needs to allocate funds to the promotion of development services and activities which are implemented by communities themselves.
Education challenges in the Eastern Cape remain a major concern, particularly at the level of basic education infrastructure. Whilst we appreciate the allocation presented by the Finance Minister, there is a need to ensure that these allocations are used responsibly by the province.
Finally we have realized that there is a tendency for Government departments not to spend the budgets allocated to them causing funds to be returned to Treasury. It would have been useful to get a sense from the budget speech of how the unused funds are put back into the budget and to indicate which departments have been unable to use their funds.
Allocations to structures that traditionally support civil society such as the National Development Agency (NDA) need to be revised to increase resources targeted at the work of CSOs. Funds should be invested in ensuring the effectiveness of these structures if they are to make a meaningful contribution to grassroots initiatives.
Eastern Cape NGO Coalition