After the Minister of Finance delivered the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament, he met with the select and standing committees on Finance and Appropriations to discuss the statement. Members of the committees took the opportunity to ask questions about National Treasury’s commitment to fund an additional of 15 00 police personnel. Committee members considered this figure too low, considering South Africa’s high levels of child abuse and gender-based violence.

The Minister replied by saying that this situation arises out of the necessity for painful trade-offs in the face of competing priorities, such as social grants related to health, housing, social protection, transport, education and social development. These things received 59.2 per cent share of the division of revenue.

“Considering both our budgetary demands and constraints, we thought we’d rather have these new 15 000 police officers than not have them at all. Our intent is to increase this number in every financial year,” the Minister explained.

Mr Dennis Ryder, a member of the Select Committee on Appropriations, asked the Treasury about the impact of a higher than expected increase in the public sector wage bill, if government employee trade unions exceed the three per cent increase that was agreed upon between government and unions some years ago. The Minister replied that National Treasury, other affected departments and the unions will continue to discuss the matter to reach an amicable concensus.

The cost of load shedding on the economy was another issue that preoccupied various members of the committees. The Acting Head of Economic Policy at Treasury, Ms Boipuso Modise, explained that Stage 6 load shedding costs the economy R500 million per hour, which slows economic growth significantly. However, National Treasury is pleased that independent energy producers are now able to add energy resources to the national grid to ensure a sustainable energy supply.

Abel Mputing

28 October 2022