Finance minister Enoch Godongwana tiptoed around government support to the agricultural sector when he delivered his medium-term budget policy statement yesterday (Thursday, 11 November 2021).
Industry role players said the minister needed to prioritise agriculture to ensure that the food basket of the country does not dry up following the recent violent protests in the country, increases in fuel prices, rising input costs and load shedding.
The minister’s maiden medium-term budget vote did, however, centre around infrastructure development and renewable energy, both of which adversely affect farmers and have caused serious concern before. Godongwana spoke tough on the need for sustainable energy in ensuring job creation and a revamp of the economy amid continual power cuts by Eskom.
“Our first and immediate task, in this regard, must be to ensure stable energy supply, to reduce the risk of load shedding and to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
“All our efforts over the past 13 years have been to fix Eskom, instead of addressing security of supply by adding additional capacity to the grid,” he said.
55 new infrastructure projects
Farmers across the country have repeatedly called on government to intervene and to prioritise infrastructure development, especially roads and boreholes to ensure that the day-to-day functioning of their businesses is not hampered in any way.
Statistics South Africa also released a report recently which indicated that government was spending less on infrastructure development.
Addressing this in his budget vote, Godongwana admitted that the infrastructure of the country was ailing and that it was impacting on the economy’s ability to thrive.
“Further work is being done to unlock more infrastructure projects for execution. We need to focus on our infrastructure projects in our country. We must act with speed to improve the infrastructure and modernise the customs systems at all our ports.”
Godongwana further said that government was working around the clock to deliver 55 new infrastructure projects, at a cost of around R595 billion.
The infrastructure fund, he alluded, was important in ensuring that the total investment in public infrastructure was close to 30% of the country’s gross fixed capital formation in 2030.
‘A pro-poor budget’
Godongwana said that government’s commitments are bold towards climate change mitigation, and cited cooperation with global bodies to reduce the country’s greenhouse emissions.
“If we invest in the correct infrastructure for the future, we will be able to take advantage of opportunities to increase our trade with other countries.
“We note and welcome promises for funding to support our transition to a low-carbon economy. We strongly welcome this commitment and will engage further on the details and obligations of all parties in this regard.”
Godongwana emphasised that his budget was pro-poor as the focus was to ignite the economy with job creation, infrastructure development and sustainable economy as his key intentions.
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