Comment on behalf of Kevin Hustler, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber welcomes Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget Speech, which touched on many of the points we mentioned in our wish list earlier this month.
• On the issue of structural economic reforms, the minister recommitted to the National Development Plan (NDP) which he said guided the 2016 Budget. We hope that this focus on inclusive growth, partnerships and prioritising infrastructure investment and education will create confidence and stability in our economy. We also welcome his assurance of the independence of the judiciary and by implication the Office of the Public Protector. We remain of the view that policy certainty and accessible incentives will attract investors to our shores.
• On the issue of good governance we are pleased that Minister Gordhan focussed on cutting the bloated civil service – in particular ineffective structures to the mandated delivery requirements. We believe greater urgency is needed on stringent cost containment measures across all departments of government.
• We welcome Minister Gordhan’s healthy focus on cost cutting and his measures to streamline the state-owned entities. We find hisinstruction to eliminate wastage, duplication and inefficiency encouraging - with his suggestion of a consolidated SAA and SA Expressbeing a very good start. We believe the minister still needs to apply his mind to Eskom.
• We welcome the substantial funding made available for drought alleviation and we trust that this funding will help both small and commercial farmers who have been affected.
• We are pleased to note his educational focus on eradicating inappropriate schools and buildings, as many of these are situated in the Eastern Cape, but remain of the view that he should have placed a bigger focus on better service delivery by the Department of Education to our schools – in particular in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Although no clarity was given on catalytic projects for the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay, we welcome the announcement of further investment in infrastructure in the country as we believe this would impact directly on the economy of our region.
Although in future we may have to reposition ourselves on certain catalytic projects, we are confident on the oceans economy and what this could mean for us as a region. Although no specific Eastern Cape projects were mentioned by Minister Gordhan, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber firmly believes that Operation Phakisa could be a huge catalyst for our city and that we need to unlock our ocean economy as Port Elizabethans.
There is already a tremendous commitment from Transnet on port and rail infrastructure in the province and the city and we welcome Minister Gordhan’s announcement of accelerated private sector participation in the ports and freight rail sector. We also welcome his broad emphasis on road infrastructure for national and provincial roads. This includes the newly declared national road, the Addo road, which will be upgraded by Sanral over the next three years.His focus on water infrastructure is also welcomed and for Nelson Mandela Bay this should be prioritised for the NooitgedachtLow Level Water Scheme completion as well as addressing all the water leaks in city.
Continued funding for infrastructure appeared to be a primary focus areaof Minister Gordhan’s Budget, and as the Business Chamber we have long advocated on many of these infrastructural projects like the Addo road and the Nooitgedachtpipeline. We welcome the Minister’s approach towards creating partnership platforms and collaboration between government, private sector and civil society. We concur with Minister Gordhan’s sentiments and commitment to overcome the economic challenges by seizing opportunities through agility, innovation and resilience to create inclusive growth in the economy.
More Budget 2016 nuggets:
• YES to…. further investment in the green economy, manufacturing, beneficiation, as well as financing for black industrialist.
• RELIEVED about…. no further taxation on businesses and grateful for no increases in VAT.
• CONCERNED about….Sugar tax, tyre levy and motor vehicle emissions tax.