Cape Town - This is the full medium term budget policy statement delivered by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday.
Below is his full speech:
Fellow South Africans
Molweni! Sanibonani! Dumelang! Goeie middag! Avhusheni!
It is my privilege to present the twentieth Medium Term Budget Policy Statement for consideration of the House and all South African.
As we consider the medium-term outlook, one is reminded of a poem by Ben Okri, entitled ‘Poetic Fight’, which I quote:
“Will you be at the harvest, Among the gatherers of new fruits?
Then you must begin today to remake Your mental and spiritual world,
And join the warriors and celebrants of freedom, Realizers of great dreams.
You can’t remake the world without remaking yourself.”
With these evocative words, Okri challenges us to remake ourselves in order to remake the world around us.
To become the realizers of great dreams, we must challenge and reimagine ourselves, be prepared to reinvent and create anew.
As part of this mammoth effort, and in one on the most important achievements of the fourth democratic administration, a National Development Plan (NDP) was developed five years ago, constituting a long-term vision for the country.
The NDP was developed through an unprecedented and remarkably inclusive process, canvassing the views of South Africans from all walks of life, and drawing in the best national expertise and minds, as embodied by the distinguished and diverse group of national planning commissioners who developed the plan.
This culminated in the Vision 2030, which spelled out what was required to realize our aspirations for our society, and for all who live in it.
It was absolutely critical for Vision 2030 to use as a starting point the aspirations for our people.
That is what government is about, and that is what development is also about – putting in place the conditions for people to realize their aspirations for themselves.
This is true to Okri’s clarion call which exhorts us not merely to be at the harvest or the realization of the dreams, but to be among the gatherers of the fruit and the realizers of the great dreams, to be present at the letsema not merely as the beneficiary of the harvest of great fruit, but as an active participant of the sowing and ultimately one of the harvesters.
The NDP envisages a future in which our people will not be passive beneficiaries of the largesse of democracy, but indeed active builders and midwives of the South Africa we want.
Indeed we must all be prepared to plant the seeds of the harvest.
As Indian Nobel prize laureate and development economist Amartya Sen observed in his book,
Development As Freedom:
“Development has to be more concerned with enhancing the lives we lead and the freedoms we enjoy. Expanding the freedoms that we have reason to value not only makes our lives richer and more unfettered, but also allows us to be fuller social persons, exercising our own volitions and interacting with – and influencing – the world in which we live.”
Our people aspire:
- to raise their children in conditions of safety, free from threats of sexual assault, drugs and gangsterism
- to live healthy lives, with access to medical care to prevent and treat illnesses;
- to develop their capabilities through education and training, apprenticeships and employment;
- to build wealth sufficient to live a decent lifestyle now and in their years of retirement, and to leave something to their families after passing on; and,
- perhaps above all, to actualize themselves, to take advantage of all that life has to offer, and pursue their dreams as masters of their own destiny
At its core, it is this fundamental purpose of enabling people-centred development that is and must be the central objective of government, and the capable and developmental state called for by Vision 2030.
In this regard, the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) is an important opportunity to reflect on the country’s finances and economic outlook, and to what extent this outlook supports our national development objectives as articulated in Vision 2030.
It is an opportunity to think about how we must remake ourselves, if we are to reach the harvest evoked by Okri.
We are giving an honest view of the challenges facing our country.
It is not in the public interest, nor is it in the interest of government, to sugar-coat the state of our economy and the challenges we are facing.
It is only when we understand these challenges fully and candidly that we will know what to do and can decide what course we must take in addressing them, as well as what trade-offs we must make in the national interest.
The fiscal framework we present to you recognizes this and does exactly this. The period ahead is not going to be an easy one.
Our resolve is to remain on course and not to deviate irretrievably from the fiscal consolidation agenda we embarked on a few years ago.
We will continue to optimize, squeeze and innovate to improve the quality and efficiency of our spending.
* Visit our Mini Budget Special Issue for all the news, views and analysis.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.