MIDTERM BUDGET | How government plans to reshape the state

01 November 2023 - 14:10
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The National Treasury building in Pretoria.
The National Treasury building in Pretoria.
Image: Russel Roberts

The government has shed light on criteria to determine which departments or public entities to scrap as it forges ahead to reconfigure the state.

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana fleshed out reconfiguration criteria in National Treasury’s medium-term budget policy statement on Wednesday.

In a presentation to parliament, he said in concluding which department or entity to shut down, the government would consider:

  • its performance and size, especially if it’s no longer fulfilling its mandate or lacks capacity to do so;
  • the ability of a larger department to absorb the functions of a small department;
  • duplication and overlap of functions across departments and entities; and
  • clarity and execution of the legislative mandate.

The move aims to improve efficiencies within the public sector and reduce the cost of running the state.

Godongwana added that rationalising government departments and entities would take up to three years.

It has been formulated along with the Presidency and the departments of public administration and monitoring and evaluation.

The reconfiguration was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his state of the nation address (Sona) in February.

The finance minister has reported to parliament for the past three years and National Treasury has conducted a series of spending reviews.

“In many cases these reviews have highlighted deficiencies in policy choices and programme design, scale and cost.”

These “shortcomings in planning and implementation” within government and the public sector have been detrimental to the economy, Godongwana said.

However, there are concerns that scrapping or merging government departments and entities could result in large-scale public-sector retrenchments. At a pre-budget press conference, Godongwana would not be drawn on this.

“I don’t want a message that says we are going to chase people out of jobs,” he told journalists.

Godongwana said Ramaphosa was due to set out, in “complete detail”, the state's reconfiguration when he presents his next Sona in February.


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