All eyes will be on the under-pressure minister of finance Enoch Godongwana when he presents the mid-term budget today in parliament. The minister has warned that the country’s finances are in tatters which could result in economic-driven projects being halted.
With the country’s unhealthy fiscal status, Godongwana is expected to make announcements on budget cuts and tightening the belt.
A solution-driven budget needed
Some organised agriculture and agri economists have said the budget cuts should not involve the sector as it is a critical component of the economy to create jobs.
Free State Business Council For Districts chairperson and farmer Phaladi Matsole said cutting budgets in government is tantamount to disaster for the sector.
“How do we start talking about cutting budgets when in the Free State many police vans are broken and not working, resulting in rural safety being compromised. When you ask you are told there are no budgets,” he said.
“Some police stations operate with very few cars while they have to serve many communities, farm attacks and murders in the Free State is on the rise. How do we talk about budget cuts when we are in crisis?”
Matsole said there should be a solid budgetary plan this time for the energy crisis in the country. “Too much theory has been presented. We need actual implementation to combat load shedding for example. The independent power producers should be given permits to energy where ready and possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Godongwana has said the country’s public debt is sitting at about R4.5 trillion with many needs from the public purse.
Invest in key resources
Livestock and crop farmer in Bronkhorspuit in Pretoria Nompumelelo Sibanyoni said although she understands the country’s economy is under pressure, food producers are equally faced with challenges and must operate under difficult conditions.
“For me, if the government could redirect funds to ensure that we have equitable and available water at all times, that would be a win for me. Water is everything in the daily operations of the farm.
“The crops and livestock survive with water. Basically, without water there is no operation. I am using boreholes on my farm, and lately, it has been very difficult with this load shedding. Shortage of water results in damaged crops,” she said.
Sibanyoni said she would like to see the government invest more money into building dams and fixing burst pipes, sewage networks and water treatment plants.
Livestock farmer from Kuruman in the Northern Cape Maungo Mokgoje said while there are budget cuts looming, uplifting young people to be enablers of job creation is critical so that they do not become too reliant on the government.
“I think it will be important that the mid-term budget focuses personal development training in terms of agricultural youth which should be coupled with financial development training, skills required to run agriculture enterprise,” he said.
Mokgoje said agriculture is the backbone of the economy and job creation is not easy for rural youth where there is little to no development and opportunities. He thinks the government should empower rural areas.
The inclusion of youth is vital
Eastern Cape Youth in Agriculture and Rural Development leader and farmer Mlungisi Bushula said it would be great if the medium-term budget could ring-fence funding for high-impact youth-driven business models that can serve as catalyst projects in addressing the various challenges South Africa is facing.
“Projects in agriculture will both serve to combat unemployment and contribute to food security while also empowering the youth to have better hope for the future as they will see that youth is being empowered to withstand these harsh economic conditions.
“The support services sector could also play a huge and meaningful role in ensuring business support for the funded youth businesses. Suitable and credible consultation firms could be identified to assist with the non-financial support element of the development as they work closely with agriculture-focused small medium and micro enterprises,” he said.
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