The Medium-Term Budget Statement (MTBS) due to be tabled on 25 October is yet another opportunity for government to fill the void and acknowledge and address our crisis in leadership.
In a climate of ongoing poor economic growth, it would be irresponsible for government not to use the MTBS to put clear and decisive steps that encourage national and global private sector investment on the table. Without this, it remains all but impossible to meaningfully address fiscal constraints and the expected shortfall in tax revenues that will continue to impact service delivery and the poorest of the poor – who remain marginalized because of the consistent inability to address the crisis in which we find ourselves.
The Banking Association South Africa calls on the Minister of Finance to prioritise working with the private sector to address ongoing failures of governance and management issues at state owned enterprises. Private sector initiatives, particularly the CEO Initiative, were making very good progress, in trying circumstances, in areas of investment, SME finance and youth employment. The CEO Initiative also worked hard to engage rating agencies to avoid a downgrade. All these positive initiatives were halted, and trust which had been built destroyed, through the President‘s actions in March 2017. It must now fall to government to rebuild the trust.
The need for action exists at all levels of government. The Banking Association South Africa calls on the President to act immediately to appoint a judicial commission of enquiry into state capture. Instead, the ongoing issues at ESKOM and SAA are indicative of continuing state capture. Of particular concern in this regard is the recent allegations of attempts to capture the PIC, including the persistent attacks on the CEO of the PIC. This is a serious extension of the state capture narrative and must be resisted. It has become urgent to address the scope and scale of state capture, the scourge of corruption and the lack of leadership action that impacts delivery. It is government’s constitutional responsibility to act in the national interest, and the motives behind its failure to do so remain questionable.
The MTBS can’t be seen in isolation of this broader context and the Minister of Finance must, in his speech, rebuild confidence, trust, certainty and demonstrate the national interest to take the hard decisions necessary to put SA onto an inclusive growth path.