The following speech was delivered in Parliament today during the consideration of the 2020 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
Every October we have a Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. Few are particularly memorable.
This one will be the exception.
For years to come this budget will haunt the government.
For it is in this budget that the Ramaphosa government showed that it is not credible, and that it does not care.
First, to the credibility of the government:
How can anyone trust what this government says anymore when it keeps flip flopping on its key reform pledges?
“No more bailouts”, said the Minister of Finance emphatically. Before he announced another massive R10,5 billion bailout of SAA.
“We are committed to debt stability by 2023”, said the Minister. Before he borrowed more than ever before, and abandoned that commitment, shifting the timeline out to 2026.
“We’re going to get the wage bill under control”, he said. Before the government offered a R27 billion bonanza to public sector workers just to make the problem go away.
On all of the most crucial reforms the Treasury has promised, they’ve backtracked, flip flopped or delayed.
Certainly, ratings agencies don’t believe them anymore.
Why should anyone believe what they say anymore?
Now, it has emerged that the government has already paid R1.5 billion to SAA, before this Budget is passed today and before it becomes law. This shows gross disrespect for Parliament and disregard for the law. It is illegal, and the DA is taking legal advice right now on whether it can be stopped.
Second, in this budget the ANC showed it does not care for, and can never again be trusted by the poor and unemployed of our country to represent their best interests.
The ANC has showed it is prepared to cut almost any basic service, to take healthcare and policing away from communities, to take water from people’s cups, in order to fund SAA.
We have said all through this budget process, and we repeat again today, that the decision to cut essential services to fund SAA is immoral. No government with a conscience for the poor would do this.
It is wrong to make provinces absorb these service cuts, and absorb wage bill cuts, simply because you do not have the courage to do what is right.
We are pleased that the DA governed Western Cape has petitioned President Ramaphosa in terms of S79 of Constitution to bring to his attention serious concerns about the constitutionality of the cuts imposed on provinces in this budget process.
The President should heed those concerns and return the Division of Revenue Bill to Parliament.
But we won’t hold our breath.
Nearly 1 in every 2 rand the government spends this year is borrowed.
We’ve got the highest deficit in the developing world.
We’ve just been downgraded deeper into junk.
Nearly 1 in every 2 working age South Africans are unemployed.
South Africans are poorer than they were a decade ago.
We need a clear and urgent change in direction spurred by wide ranging economic reform.
But this divided and dysfunctional cabinet cannot do it. They cannot bring themselves together behind the goal of reform, let alone the country.
This government has got South Africa on the one way track to national bankruptcy, and it cannot change direction.
Everywhere the ANC governs, bankruptcy is sure to follow. And that means the poor are left poorer, more people are unemployed, and public services collapse.
Look at local councils across South Africa. If the ANC cannot be trusted to run the economy of a small town, it sure can’t be trusted to turn around a national economy in decline.
That is the only future the ANC offers:
More debt. Higher Taxes. More people unemployed.
And a country that must go cap-in-hand to beg international lenders. Broken, bankrupt and embarrassed.
This is what they offer.
But the choice is not one government and one opposition. It’s between two governments!
Just look at the difference wherever the DA governs.
Ours are not the governments of borrowing and bankruptcy, but of saving and investment.
Ours are not the governments of growing poverty and unemployment, but of more jobs, a thriving local economy, and a real respect for entrepreneurs.
Ours are not the governments of collapsing basic services, but of the very best services to the poor of any towns and cities in the country.
Better healthcare. Better education. Cleaner government. A respect for public money belonging to the public.
This is the fundamental choice our country faces.
Where they govern, bankruptcy and unemployment follows. Where we govern, investment and more jobs follow.
That is why we are attracting investment from around the world wherever we govern. Global companies like Amdec, Capita, Lactalis and Teraco have committed R7.8 billion in new investments in DA governments.
And we’re thrilled that Google has announced a R2.2 billion investment in Cape Town’s economy.
So now if the ANC wants to know how to grow an economy, they should just Google the DA!
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