In his medium-term budget policy statement this week, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni revealed some details about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promised “reprioritisation” of spending.
The headline figure of R50 billion to be shifted around in the medium term amounts to less than 1% of the total expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year.
FUNNY WAY TO IMPROVE ROADS
In his speech, Mboweni promised to reprioritise funds for the “strengthening and rehabilitation of the national non-toll road network, of which about 75% is beyond its design life”.
Oddly, the mini budget cuts the non-toll roads’ budget by 35%. The transfers listed in the mini budget actually take money away from the non-tolled roads, as well as from rail, to bail out the Gauteng e-toll project.
By far the largest move in Mboweni’s presentation is the decision to take R3 billion from the Passenger Rail Agency of SA’s (Prasa’s) capital budget and give it to the e-tolled roads.
Prasa, incidentally, loses another R1.3 billion from its capital budget, which goes to its maintenance and operations budget.
The e-tolls, however, get an additional R5.57 billion. The balance comes from the non-toll road budget, which is cut by R2.75 billion, despite being identified as a priority.
FROM INCENTIVE TO INCENTIVE
Another large reprioritisation is in the department of trade and industry’s incentive budget. Mboweni mentioned that funds would be reprioritised away from the special economic zones to the Clothing and Textiles Competitiveness Programme.
In the mini budget documents, an additional R400 million is given to the Industrial Development Corporation to fund the textile incentive.
The source of this money, however, seems to mostly be the Manufacturing Competitiveness Incentive, which loses R400 million, while special economic zones lose R30 million.
One small but puzzling reprioritisation is that an additional R59 million is being given to the nuclear new build programme, which is supposedly dead in the water.
In the energy vote, R52.5 million is taken away from Eskom’s electrification programme and given to “services associated with the nuclear new build programme”.
Another R6.5 million is taken away from the department’s consultancy budget and, again, given to services associated with the nuclear new build programme.
A LEAKY BUSINESS
The amount of R411 million is being reprioritised into the War on Leaks programme run by the department of water and sanitation.
The scheme pays young people a stipend while training them as water artisans who are meant to go into communities to fix leaks.
Several media reports earlier this year said the programme was badly run.
The extra money is taken away from a wide base of other programmes in the water vote.
More land bank, less restitution
Plans to shore up the Land Bank as part of the land reform strategy are also evident – the bank gets R650 million, which gets taken out of the budget for land restitution claims.