Zuma was mindful of costs when expanding govt

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Parliament - President Jacob Zuma has assured South Africans that the decision to expand government by splitting departments and setting up new ministries was done mindful of the costs involved.

"We have done so fully aware of the financial implications of our decisions, and mindful of the constraints that the economic downturn has placed on public finances," said the President in Parliament's National Assembly on Thursday.

He was responding to comments made by the Democratic Alliance's Parliamentary Leader, Athol Trollip, during the debate on the Presidency's Budget Vote yesterday.

"The Hon Trollip is worried about the size of government. He speaks of a 'massive cabinet' and a 'bloated bureaucracy,'" the President said.

President Zuma said it was not so much whether government was too big or too small, but how best it should be organised to meet the developmental needs of the country and to make optimal use of the resources available.

"Let me assure the House once again that the changes we have made to the configuration of departments are guided by the need to improve service delivery, and to correct the weaknesses that the people had identified."

In May, the newly-elected President announced many changes in government.

A Planning Ministry and National Planning Commission were established within the Presidency, the Department of Education was split into separate ministries, one for Basic Education and the other for Higher Education and Training, a new department of Rural Development and Land Affairs was established and a new Department of Economic Development was set up among other changes.

The President said that while the plans were within government's means, there was still a need to spend wisely.

"We need to eliminate wasteful expenditure. We must be able to measure the developmental return on our investments."

He said all of the programmes outlined in the State of the Nation Address would require funding, but the costs of these programmes were negligible when compared to the cost to society of not implementing them.

"The cost of educating our people or ensuring access to health care is nothing compared to the cost of not doing so," said President Zuma.