Black Sash Media Statements

Sash calls on government to move beyond the politics, promises and policy paralysis ahead of Medium Term Budget Policy Statement - BLACK SASH, 26 October 2010

BLACK SASH MEDIA STATEMENT – Government’s ‘New Growth Plan’ and the ‘Medium-term Budget Policy Statement’ – Tuesday, 26 October 2010

As Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan prepares to deliver his second medium-term budget policy statement tomorrow, the Black Sash calls on our government to move beyond the politics, promises and policy paralysis that has so far characterised this term of office, and set a budgetary framework that delivers a convincing anti-poverty plan for South Africa. 

Today’s surprise announcement by Cabinet of a ‘New Growth Path’ is our first sight of the labour-absorbing economic plan that Minister Gordhan promised a year ago to ensure a better life for all. Tomorrow’s budget framework needs to lift the veil on the macro-economic policy discussions that have been happening in Cabinet and, we assume, at the National Planning Commission. His speech must provide clarity on who is accountable for the creation of desperately needed work and in which sectors; and how we, as a nation, are going to halve poverty by 2015 as stated in the Millennium Development Goals.  

The Labour Force Survey released by Stats SA today reveals a disturbing loss of jobs in the last quarter, with more and more people becoming too discouraged to actively seek work. The reality is that the majority of our people are currently sidelined from our economy. And with such limited access to decent work, they continue to be largely excluded from the promised benefits of our democracy. The Black Sash is deeply concerned that in the absence of meaningful investment, our communities will continue to be trapped in the role of passive consumers instead of taking up their rightful place as productive citizens.   

In a country with such extremely high levels of poverty and inequality, and a relatively small private sector, and with small businesses particularly hard hit, we agree with Cabinet’s statement today that there should be a larger role for a “strong and focussed state” in creating more sustainable work.  However, the Black Sash hopes the five million jobs promised by the ‘New Growth Path’ will not turn out to be like the so called ‘work opportunities’ currently offered by the ‘Expanded Public Works Programmes’. Until now, the government’s EPWP’s have only absorbed small numbers of people for short periods; offered limited training; and paid so badly that they have made saving impossible, inhibited initiative and discouraged development.

The Black Sash also hopes Minister Gordhan will provide clarity tomorrow on how the vital and much anticipated NHI, pension and broader social security reforms are going to be funded. It is clear from our recent health consultations around the country that most people would be willing to contribute financially to ensure that the sick are subsidised by the healthy, and the poor, by the wealthy. However, we insist that there be significant improvement in the way our money is spent and the quality of service delivered. The Black Sash will continue to work with community organisations to monitor service delivery and to be vigilant about how public funds are spent by both government and private companies that provide essential goods and services.  

With the 2011 Municipal elections just around the corner, we will also be looking to the Finance Minister to tell us on what basis government will ensure the fair allocation of funds to municipalities. The realities of migration and changing populations need be considered and accommodated, and municipalities need to be empowered to maintain the quality of essential services such as water and cushion the poor against the unmanageable and rising costs of electricity.

ENDS.

For interview requests, please contact:

Phelisa Nkomo

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

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078-655 7774

 

Nkosikhulule Nyembezi

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

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Cell: 082-429 4719

Elroy Paulus

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

Cell: 072-382 8175

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For more information, please contact:

Sarah Nicklin 
Black Sash Media Officer
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073-150 9525

www.blacksash.org.za