Populism not the answer to KZN woes, says Finance MEC

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Ravi Pillay says the provincial government’s focus is on cultivating sustainable solutions when it comes to turning the tide on the economic challenges facing the province.

Pillay was speaking during a debate on the R130.9 billion provincial budget in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature on Tuesday. The debate followed the tabling of the provincial budget last week.

“We agree that the budget must be developmental and that we must focus on the poorest of the poor, including farm workers and petrol attendants. But we can’t agree on populist solutions that are not sustainable.

“We can’t agree on just making promises of doubling people’s salaries when we know it’s not going to be sustainable. That is bluffing our people,” Pillay said.

He pointed to examples from other parts of the world where populist approaches to managing the economy had led to runaway inflation, resulting in devastating effects on the poor.

Pillay, however, emphasised that government remains unashamedly pro-poor.

“We have a strong bias to the poor but we will not be reckless or adventurist in a way that will take us on the direction that other countries have gone to their detriment.”

Inclusive economic growth

The MEC also underscored the need to promote inclusive economic growth in the province. He said government is dealing with this matter in a manner that will ensure that social cohesion is not compromised.

“We understand that this is a legacy of apartheid. Our task is to change it in a way that does not divide us,” Pillay said.

He thanked members of the legislature who participated in the debate, saying the debate is an important one. 

“The tone of the debate was less venom and more of an attempt to engage with the issues while not compromising on where we disagree as political parties. I am reading in that a commitment and understanding that the task we have is a collective task for all of us on behalf of the province,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za