Debate on the “2019 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement & First Reading Debate: Adjustments Appropriations Bill” by Cde Xolisile Qayiso

 

04 December 2019

The debate on Adjustments Appropriation Bill and the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) takes place in a particular national and global context. The economy is characterized by contradictory tendencies in terms of human development as a result of neo liberal capitalism. This has exacerbated a long standing structural problems in the economy, evident through poverty, unemployment and inequality skewed along racial lines. It has been our responsibility as the ANC to ensure that our economy performs despite these challenges imposed on the working class by monopoly capital. The NDP clearly states that our country’s economy needs to be rescues through a social compact and actions to realise Vision 2030. Social compacting should also be founded on an appreciation by the business community to deal with the root causes of poverty and inequality.  

The ANC welcomes the fact that Health remained a priority for Adjustment Appropriation and MTBPS, accounting for 13.9 percent of the total consolidated expenditure. However, while the ANC supports government’s commitment towards universal access to healthcare, it is concerned about the slow pace at which the National Health Insurance (NHI) was being rolled out. Challenges of the NHI implementation includes poor performance of the NHI conditional grants; continuous changing the purpose of the NHI from a direct to indirect grant; and ongoing policy uncertainties with respect to the role of various players, the flow of funding and applicable health package. An amount of R2.8 billion had been reprioritised within the NHI indirect grant to fund critical health professional and community services posts. As much as the ANC supported this initiative, it recommended that there must a clear and direct link between filling posts and the implementation of the NHI.

Section 27 (1) of the Constitution provides that everyone has the right to have access to— (a) health care services, including reproductive health care; (b) sufficient food and water; and (c) social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance. Section 27 (2) of the Constitution says that the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights. And Section 27 (3) says that no one may be refused emergency medical treatment.

The implementation of the National Health Insurance as a policy change in the health sector offers some potential for rural-proofing by creating work opportunities while simultaneously ensuring that rural populations gain equal access to services when compared to those living in cities. To gear for the implementation of the NHI, government can focus on ensuring that rural amenities such as clinics and hospitals are upgraded and remain well-maintained. By focusing on rural infrastructure, job opportunities in the construction sector can be created. For the job opportunities to genuinely accrue to rural citizens, a well-designed programme that offers the opportunity to people to receive a high-quality training in artisanal skills is required.

The ANC is also proud that 16 percent and 7 percent of the total consolidated budget were allocated to basic and higher education, respectively. We continue to demonstrate that Education remains a priority for the ruling party. The government remains committed to improving the quality of basic education. Over the medium term, R3.8 billion is allocated to this grant to replace 82 inappropriate and unsafe schools, and provide water and sanitation to 325 and 286 schools respectively. In addition, the education infrastructure grant is allocated R31.7 billion to build new schools, upgrade and maintain existing infrastructure, and provide school furniture.

The President of the Republic of South Africa and of the ANC, during the SONA, called on all of us to priorities job creation to address the high unemployment amongst our youth. It is clear that skills development and empowerment of the youth forms a critical element of addressing the youth unemployment. This is because the ANC government is fulfilling the calls of the Freedom Charter for Free Education with its basis on merit. First year students from poor background continue to receive free education across our higher education institutions. This is a great and responsible allocation by the ANC government indeed, and only the ANC can achieve such.

As Agriculture and Rural Development received 1.8 percent of the total consolidated budget; as the ANC we are of the view that government agricultural support programmess needed to prioritise small scale commercial agriculture production. As stated by President Ramaphosa that the ANC is committed to delivering quality public service, we are committed to using political platforms to legislate guidelines and consequence management rules, as the responsibility for improving public services could not be institutionalised within the budget framework.

Provinces and municipalities play a crucial role in advancing the economic development of their respective precincts. Fully functional, well-equipped schools produce a vibrant and employable workforce. Smarter health systems develop and maintain the health of the workforce. Provincial agricultural departments and support to farmers can stimulate rural development. The provision of provincial and municipal roads and public transport services ensures mobility for goods and workers, while basic municipal services such as water, electricity and refuse removal, as well as business licencing and environmental health functions, enable businesses to operate and grow.

However, we are concerned by the impact of drought, storm, tornado and floods in several provinces poses significant risks to agriculture and tourism that could result in job losses. We realise that number of communities still need help to rebuild their lives following these natural disasters. We also emphasise the constitutional rights of every South African to have access to water and sanitation. We call on government to respond to South Africans in need of water including those in Qwaqwa, Phuthaditjhaba and ward 19.

We welcome the fact that government has allocated R241.9 million for emergency work and R65.3million through Sedibeng Water Board for the Regional Sewer scheme in the Adjustment Appropriations Bill.

In conclusion, the 2019 Adjustments Appropriation Bill and MTBPS were planned under an extremely tight macro-economic and fiscal environment which demands bold decisions to address the ailing South African economy. The governing party continues to ensure productive spending and social spending that benefits the poor through the social wage and other forms of social protection.  The ANC supports the 2019 Adjustments Appropriation Bill and MTBPS.

I thank you.