In tabling the 2006 budget proposals for the further consideration of this House,
we also place before the nation an account of the mountains we have climbed
and the frontiers before us. Our budget proposals are closely bound up with
this journey, with our conception of democracy, with the progressive realization
of social and economic freedoms to which we aspire, with our understanding of
the service delivery obligations of government alongside the development
impetus of active citizenship, our faith in these joys and these challenges.
We are able to report that the economy expanded by about 5 per cent last year,
and we anticipate continued growth of about 5 per cent a year over the period
ahead. Business confidence is strong, investment and employment creation
have gained momentum, inflation and interest rates remain moderate. The
revenue outcome for 2005/06 will be about R41 billion more than we expected
this time last year, creating room for both expenditure growth and tax relief in
this year’s budget.
“Umnotho ukhulile, asivuneni, inala ifikile!” Nhlanhlayenkosi Mhlungu writes:
“This is the year of plenty, when all South Africans will reap the fruits of
economic growth!” TLALA O KOTSING!
We have, as always, received a great deal of advice on what might be done in
these happy circumstances. Government departments have tabled a thousand
new service delivery proposals and expanded spending plans. Taxpayers have
promised to invest more and work harder if more money is left in their hands.
Citizens and civil society organisations have again been generous in providing
tips for Trevor, highlighting frankly and precisely what the frontiers and
challenges are that have yet to be addressed, that all possible joys may be
uncovered. Sipho Makola proposes, for example, a tax deduction on dating
expenditure: “It’s really difficult lately to find a woman without first dating her
and such expenditure is sometimes beyond our budgets. We either date or
forever remain bachelors…”
Madam Speaker, to budget is to choose. Democracy and freedom have laid on
this House the solemn duty of safeguarding the transparency and integrity of
The budgetary choices we make give life and meaning to the Age of Hope of
which President Mbeki so rightly spoke in the State of the Nation Address. The
budget tabled here today gives practical effect, Mr President, to our programme
of social cohesion, and in particular to prioritising the needs of the poor, for that
is what it means for rich and poor to share the privilege of a common
There is no simple index of fiscal solidarity that measures progress along this
redistributive trajectory. The “social wage” comprises many overlapping areas
of public investment and service delivery.
This is a mountain to be climbed in stages, joys to be reached step by step.
I refer, for example, to the growth in income support to vulnerable households
through social security and social assistance grants. This has been the fastest
growing category of government expenditure since 2001, and now amounts to
R70 billion a year, 3,4 per cent of GDP, and reaches more than 10 million
beneficiaries. Social grants contribute more than half of the income of the
poorest 20 per cent of households, and have doubled in real terms over the
past five years. Recent survey data has provided clear empirical evidence of
significant improvements in child nutrition associated with the child supportgrant, which in turn positively affect cognitive ability and school outcomes.
TLALA O KOTSING!!
I refer also to the expansion of primary health care since 1994. More than
1300 clinics have been built or upgraded, 2300 have seen new equipment
installed, childhood immunization programmes have been extended, and our
health services receive 101 million patient visits a year – about 8 or 9 visits per
family. HIV treatment programmes are in place at 192 health facilities. Over
the MTEF period ahead, 46 hospitals will undergo physical rehabilitation and
administrative overhaul as part of the nationally coordinated Hospital
I refer to steady progress in school enrolment, to the fact that 64 467
classrooms have been built in the last 10 years, that 114 000 study awards
were made by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in 2005, that
207 497 young people have registered for learnerships since the introduction of
the skills development programme, funded in part through tax subsidies.
School fees will be phased out in low-income communities this year, and
Minister Pandor confirms that in three weeks time the last remaining seventeen
trees will no longer substitute for classrooms.
I refer to the fact that 3Ѕ million homes have been connected to the electricity
grid since 1994, water supply infrastructure now reaches some 90 per cent of
the population and the sanitation backlog is steadily declining. R23 billion will
be spent on government subsidies for 500 000 housing units over the next
three years, complemented by rising expenditure on community sports
facilities, police stations, transport infrastructure and administrative services.
I refer to our commitment to ensure that no household is denied the simple
dignity associated with basic water, sanitation and energy supplies. Data
supplied by the Department of Provincial and Local Government indicate that
165 water service authorities currently provide 3,9 million poor households with
free basic water, and free basic electricity reaches 2,9 million households.
In 2005 the government spent R4800 a year, per person, on community and
household services and income transfers, compared with R2000 a decade ago
– an increase of nearly 50 per cent in real terms.
What has made this possible? There are no joys without mountains having
Part of the answer lies in financial policy and debt management: in 1998, for
every rand of revenue collected, 24 cents was spent on servicing state debt; in
2005 the debt cost 14 cents, and by 2009 it will be 10 cents.
Part of the answer is in the substantially improved growth of the economy on
the strength of sound macroeconomic, fiscal and monetary policies. Part of it is
in the considered reprioritisation and forward-looking policy reforms that
underlie our budget choices.
But the greater part is in the quality and energy of people working together,
citizens and civil servants, community activists and businesspeople, workers
and managers. It is not the rand cost of public services that counts in the daily
experience of women and children, workseekers, victims of crime, the elderly or
those with disabilities. It is the quality of care in the paediatric ward, the time it
takes to process a business application, the effectiveness of court processes,
the attention to special learning needs in the classroom, that make a difference
to people’s lives and well-being. As we celebrate the progress made in
meeting household and community needs, we are also conscious of the work
that lies ahead. Quality of care and efficient public services still require greater
effort from all of us: improved public administration, and also the kind of citizen
activism that contributes constructively to community development. As we give
consideration to another expansionary budget framework for the period ahead,
we need to pay tribute to the special character of selflessness that lies behind
social progress and development – people working together, because that is
what is needed to get things done.
I have in mind people like the 22-member team known as the Madida Hotshots,
led by Christopher Kasayi from Jansenville in the Eastern Cape, formerly
unemployed and now skilled and dedicated firefighters in our Working on Fire
programme, who joined their counterparts from the Western Cape in bringing
under control 17 forest fires in the Boland and Table Mountain areas during the
past month, under difficult and hazardous conditions.
I have in mind 63-year old court maintenance officer Hester Kok, and her
network of community workers in Kalahari communities such as Askam,
Rietfontein, Philandersbron and Loubos. Through the efforts of local volunteers
like Gwendolene Gooi of Rietfontein, also known as “Blommetjie”, people in
these very remote settlements are assisted to receive maintenance payments
on predetermined dates and without the exorbitant expense and huge
inconvenience of a monthly taxi trip to Upington.
I have in mind people like Jabulisile Gumede, one of the founders of the Inanda
Greening Project, which has established mini-nurseries at 30 schools in the
areas of Inanda, Kwa-Mashu and Ntuzuma, contributing to local vegetable
gardens for school feeding and income generation.
I have in mind Galeshewe community member Peter Nkota, who assists the
police in visiting schools in the area twice a week to alert children to the risks of
alcohol and sexual abuse, and has worked with youth leaders and justice
officials to create a new mobile court to deal more promptly with local crime.
As we reflect on our macroeconomic performance, tax proposals and
aggregate spending plans for the MTEF period ahead, Madam Speaker, I know
that Members of the House, and others listening at home or in places of work,
will join me in remembering the special efforts of ordinary citizens, and the
dedicated work of our teachers, doctors and nurses in weekend casualty
wards, police men and women fighting crime, administrators creating order out of chaos: those who every day live the nightmares that precede our joys, and
turn them into light.
MAHUBE A NAKA TJA KGOMO!!