In this budget, we call for increased allocations for sector-specific industrial policy, including master plans, that place emphasis on the protection and creation of quality jobs. This remains vital to ensure a just recovery and reversal of the deindustrialisation trend.
Increased funding must be directed towards master plans as this is essential to support greater localising of production inputs, which will in turn boost manufacturing revenue and support job creation.
The IEJ and broader civil society have emphasised the overall importance of well-resourced public services, alongside grants and job creation, to a sustainable development strategy. There can be no dignity and improvement in the standard of living without access to quality public services.
The medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) proposed cuts in government programmes (consolidated non-interest expenditure, that is, total spend excluding debt servicing costs) by 3.3% in real terms on an annual basis over the medium term. We see in the midst of a severe economic and social crisis, real per person expenditure falls from R26,140 in 2020/21 to R25,117 in 2024/25.
Public services have been deteriorating due to budget cuts and this will only deepen poverty, unemployment and inequality.
By way of example, there are not enough ambulances to take people to hospitals in the Eastern Cape, schools have dire infrastructure and pit toilets, despite court orders to eliminate these, and informal settlement upgrading necessary to ensure people live in dignity is proceeding at a snail’s pace, while public infrastructure from roads to government buildings such as hospitals are suffering from a lack of budgeting for maintenance.
Given the improved revenue, we hope the proposed budget cuts from the MTBPS are reversed.
The above-mentioned focus areas are not exhaustive of all important issues to be considered in the budget. However, it focuses on a few strategic approaches and priority areas the IEJ assesses as crucial to SA’s social and economic recovery from the pandemic.