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Budget Speech 2019

Future proofing the budget


The budget is also about our long-term vision.


We spend a lot on infrastructure. Four things will get us better infrastructure: First is to create a sensible project pipeline. Second, is streamlining the law to make it easier to build. Third, better information for everyone. And finally, is to actually build.


So far we are working on a wastewater treatment facility works in the Vaal, a solar water geyser programme and student accommodation. R625 million is allocated to the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Government Technical Advisory Centre and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission to strengthen project preparation in this context and on a speeded up basis, projects based on rural roads and water will be prioritised. Details on several priority projects can be found on the Vulekamali portal.


The infrastructure fund is a central pillar of the Budget and of reprioritisation. It will accelerate R526 billion worth of on-budget projects by bringing in the private sector and development finance institutions. In several instances the private sector will design, build and operate key infrastructure assets. In addition, government will commit R100 billion over the next decade.


As we look to the future, I see the following huge shifts in society and the world.


The first is the rise of technology. Twenty-five years ago, the Budget was prepared on reams of paper, carefully stapled together. I reviewed this speech on my tablet, and you can keep track of the speech on Twitter right now. By the way, it is at #RSABudget. Who knows how the Budget will be prepared in twenty-five years’ time?


Our budget spending has to focus on getting our country ready for technology. The first step is to fix the education system. Government is rolling out a maths and science grant. The Governor of the South African Reserve Bank is driving an ambitious FinTech programme, together with colleagues from the other financial-sector regulators.


The sustainability challenge affects us all. Climate change is real. The steps being undertaken at Eskom will allow us to expand renewable energy, and the carbon tax will come into effect from 1 June 2019.


The third challenge is rapid urbanisation. We cannot go on building horizontally, serious consideration must be given to “going up” as part of an integrated development strategy.


The final challenge is nationalism. In many successful economies, immigrants have been a source of dynamism. Narrow nationalism often leads to stagnation. We need to redouble our efforts to attract highly-skilled people to South Africa. Professor Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard University talks of the “know-how” that these individuals bring. Their skills are complementary to our own. We need to free our entrepreneurs from stifling regulations and complicated taxes.


We will continue to work closely with our partners in the BRICS, the African Development Bank and the South African Customs Union.


Madam Speaker it is prudent to say that we are a shareholder in a number of multilateral institutions and this ensures that South Africa plays its rightful place on the continent and the world.


Before I conclude, my thanks to the President of the Republic for his leadership during this budget process. A word of appreciation to the National Treasury Director General and his team.


Their good humour and determination have got us through a difficult Budget.


My thanks to Acting SARS Commissioner and Team SARS for persevering to restore the integrity of the institution, to the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank for his support and collegiality. To colleagues in the Cabinet, in the Minister’s Committee on the Budget, and all those that have supported us in this time.


I recall Psalm 23:

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”