The Special Budget The Narrow Path
Leaning heavily on the Gospel of St Matthew, Minister Mboweni invoked the narrow, more difficult gate of austerity through which we shall have to pass to avoid the sovereign debt crisis “This means,” he said “that we will try to reduce all expenditure that we thought we can no longer afford.” Then, taking the pragmatic tone we have come to expect of him, “After all, we are not as rich as we were ten years ago.” The intention, he said, is to narrow the deficit and stabilise debt at 87.4% of GDP in 2023/24, while using the development of infrastructure as “the fly wheel by which we grow the economy.” He reserved his sternest words for Eskom, which he characterised as a system inherited from the time (if not the actual person) of King George V. “The principle of zero‐based budgeting is that we must see the demonstrable value for money,” he thundered. “Eskom will need to show progress in meeting the milestones as laid down in the Roadmap.” On the downside: “This year nearly half of all consolidated revenue will go towards the compensation of workers in the public. We value the important work public servants do.”
Comment: Bottom line – things are tight, and they’re going to get tighter. At the end of the day, it’s not the what, but the how. Will we execute the Government’s big plan, efficiently and honestly, without seeing infrastructure spending as one last chance to loot what’s left of the coffers? We’d better hope so.