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FULL SPEECH: Premier's address to NCOP debate on Appropriation Bill

Jun 18, 2020
FULL SPEECH: Premier's address to NCOP debate on Appropriation Bill

Bhisho - Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, addressed the Appropriation Bill debate of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), which took place on Thursday via Zoom due to the current COVID-19 lockdown.

Read the Premier's full speech below:

Thank you for affording us an opportunity to make our contribution in this very important subject matter of the Appropriation Bill which deals effectively with the allocation of fiscal resources for the developmental of South Africa and her people.

From the onset we want to record our full support to the Minister of Finance and his team as they spend sleepless nights crunching numbers to keep our country afloat and moving forward with its developmental agenda in these tough economic times.

For instance we have reprioritized R307 million on the travel and subsistence budgets of all departments and allocated it to the Department of Health to fight the covid pandemic. This has been made possible by the fact that we experienced limited traveling during lockdown. As the Aloe Ferox survives in difficult environments, we too will overcome the current difficult challenges. We therefore support this Appropriation Bill.

Honourable Chairperson, when this Appropriation Bill was planned and budget for, our equitable share component was R85 billion in the Eastern Cape. It represented a 4.6 percentage point of growth against the CPI, while other provincial equitable shares are above CPI. We want to record our unreserved discontent about this matter because it works against the developmental challenges we are trying to address.

We are henceforth calling for the finalization of the Equitable Share Formula Review process which should take into account the cost of development in rural provinces to really advance the developmental agenda of our government, particularly huge infrastructure backlogs.

We are also of the view that as a country we must put our money where our mouth is. By this we mean there must be an equitable share that is dedicated to the agricultural sector for economic growth, food security and sustainable job creation.

The third issue we want to raise, is the vertical equitable share split between the three spheres of government. The people of South Africa, the masses who give us the mandate to govern on their behalf live in a Ward, a Ward is in a municipality and a municipality is in a province. It does not make sense therefore that local government is allocated an equitable share of 8.8 % and provinces 42.2 % while national government gets the bigger cake of 49.2 %. This arrangement must be changed to favour municipalities and provincial administrations to do justice to our developmental and transformation agenda.

The fourth issue we want to raise is the need for transparency in the allocation of resources for economic growth. In this regard we are calling for a conditional grant that is allocated directly to provinces for economic growth initiatives, as currently our economic growth agenda is at the mercy of national government departments and SOEs. Our savior from this untenable situation is a conditional grant built from the fiscal resources that are allocated to national departments and SOEs for economic development in provinces. That money must be allocated directly to provinces to accelerate economic growth and job creation.

Chairperson, we also want to propose that as a country we must breathe new life to the District Development Model by legislating integration, planning and budgeting for the threes spheres of government through an Act of Parliament. This would guarantee our people coordinated quality development.

Lastly, we want to propose a reform on the matter of taking underspent money from one province to another. This money should be allocated to municipalities within a District in a province. Let us not punish our communities for the delays of municipalities in implementing projects.  

We also call for a review on the matter of converting direct grants to indirect grants. This has a negative impact on local suppliers as contracts are sourced centrally and this defeats the ideal of Local Economic Development that our government wants to achieve.

In conclusion Chairperson I would like to leave you with the words of an author who once said “not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path”.

A clear path to a new world with abundant new opportunities will come when the covid19 storm is over. We must prepare now to define a new economic path which is premised on the equitable development of all provinces that make up our unitary state. Such equitable development must not leave any province to fend for its self.

I thank you.

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