Ministers welcome 2023 Budget

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Government Ministers have welcomed the 2023 Budget Speech, saying Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana did his best to extricate the country from an economic conundrum.   

"The conditions under which the minister had to work were extremely toxic but he has done his best," Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, told SAnews.

“He has tried to cover all the corners from the electricity problems to the grants given to the [elderly], and child support. He has really tried to get a balance; to give everybody something in this budget,” he said.

“He doesn’t have to mention department by department but we have our letters of allocation. The main thing for the Department of Home Affairs in the letter of allocation is to increase the border guards at the border gates,” he said, in reference to the newly established Border Management Authority (BMA).

In this regard, National Treasury in the 2023 Budget Review document, an annexure in Minister Godongwana’s speech, said R3.3 billion would over the next three years be allocated to setting the BMA’s wheels in motion.

The authority will be established as a Schedule 3A public entity with effect from 1 April 2023.

Its mandate is to manage the legitimate movement of people and goods at borders and at ports of entry. It will also be responsible for enforcing border law and preventing illegal activities, including cross-border criminality, illegal crossing and undue delays in the movement of goods and services.

The Treasury said in order to successfully set up the authority, assets and inventories need to be verified at ports of entry, and border functions and related staff – such as frontline immigration, health, environment and agriculture – need to be shifted from their current departments to the authority.

Staff will also be seconded from other organs of state, where necessary, to strengthen capacity in the authority.

“To fund its operations over the MTEF period, the authority will receive additional funds amounting to R250 million in 2023/24, R300 million in 2024/25 and R350 million in 2025/26,” reads the document.

Addressing challenges

Human Settlements Minister and ANC head of economic policy Mmamoloko Kubayi, also welcomed Wednesday’s Budget.

She welcomed government’s move of taking on some of Eskom’s debt, saying that it was important that there were stringent conditions with this. 

“Seeing how we deal with the economy, for me, it’s quite important. Issues of how allocations [are made] on safety and security, and corruption [is important] because that’s what we, as the ANC from the December conference said. In order for the country to see economic growth, the issue of crime – which is sabotaging the economy – has to be dealt with,” she said.  

The Minister welcomed Godongwana’s pronouncement on the continuation of the Social Relief of Distress grant for another year. Kubayi also welcomed budget allocations on infrastructure, saying it would go a long way to the development of the country.  The funds will be sourced from the Departments of Health; Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; and Home Affairs.

Meanwhile, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza, echoed Minister Motsoaledi’s sentiments, saying while the economic climate was not “an easy situation”, the Budget “was balanced”.

 Minister Didiza praised Godongwana for being able to prioritise the issue of electricity.

On her department’s plans for the upcoming financial year, she told SAnews high on the priority list is the focus on revitalising communal areas that fall under traditional leadership.

The department has been allocated R12.5 billion over the MTEF period over the next three years for the Land Restitution Programme. According to the Budget Review document, government will focus on finalising outstanding restitution claims and supporting resettled farmers to sustain productivity, create jobs and reduce poverty.

To continue managing bio-security, increase agricultural production and manage natural resources, the department would be allocated R7.8 billion between 2024 and 2026.

Assisting small business

With the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) allocated R2.8 billion over the next three years for the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Fund, to support 120 000 township and rural enterprises, Minister Stella Ndabeni–Abrahams, welcomed the budget.

“It was a good Budget,” she said.

“It has looked at all areas that affect small businesses. It’s not just only about the allocations to that go to small businesses but also issues like infrastructure, access to water and all the things that the minister spoke to,” she told SAnews. 

Ndabeni-Abrahams also welcomed Godongwana’s pronouncements on the Bounce Back Loan Guarantee Scheme.

“We are looking forward to a direct injection that will enhance the business developments that enables those ones who want to do start-ups, in terms of them getting access to the support and equipment,” she said.

Godongwana said changes to the Scheme have been proposed to incentivize renewable energy, rooftop solar, and address energy-related constraints experienced by small and medium enterprises. –