6 July 2009
South Africa’s Cabinet is to review the spending of government departments against the backdrop of a difficult economic outlook, decreased revenue collection and increased spending pressures, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Following a briefing on the fiscal outlook and the tabling of his department’s budget in Parliament, Gordhan said his fellow ministers were determined to work collectively to review spending plans, reprioritise the budget, reduce wastage and inefficiency, and get greater value for each rand spent.
“Our revenue collection has deteriorated in the first three months of this fiscal year,” he said in Cape Town last week. “At the moment, we are about R19-billion below our benchmark target for revenue. If the present trend continues, we could be as much as R50- to R60-billion below our target by the end of the year.”
Rooting out corruption
Gordhan said that the government had to spend differently, adding that savings was not only about reducing budgets. “It is also about combating corruption, wastage and leakage in government. In particular, corruption in our procurement system is of grave concern to us.”
He said that work was under way to establish a supply chain management compliance monitoring unity within the National Treasury to root out corruption, adding that public servants had to play a role in identifying corruption.
“We call on all honest public servants and the South African public to join us in identifying and rooting out corruption,” he said.
He said the government would increase its spending on programmes relating to public employment, job creation, fighting crime, and improving the quality of the country’s health care.
“We are committed to increasing spending on public employment programmes to ensure that resources are not a constraint to reaching our targets for public works programmes,” he said.
The department would also this year provide adequate resources for the country’s anti-retroviral programmes and for improving the capacity of the country’s health system.
“We have also committed ourselves to finding more money for the occupation-specific dispensation for doctors,” he said, adding that since the government had chosen to prioritise and increase its spending on these key areas, it would have to find savings in other parts of the overall budget.