National Budget: Did Manuel throw Gordhan the worst hospital pass since Naas?

Oh, remember the days when Finance minister, Trevor Manuel, led SA in the national budget speech.

The fruits of our labours’ speech was a particular classic with MP’s enjoying the finest western capes grape while they cheered increases on social grants and education budgets.Manuel was a great showman.

This will all probably be replaced by points of order, parliamentary evictions and protests outside parliament. Even before the speech gets under way.

Some say that SA should recall Trevor Manuel as Minister of Finance and put Pravin Gordhan back as SARS Commissioner. ‘ That would impress the rating agencies’ they say.

Maybe not!

The crazy thing about the above suggestion is that it would double Pravin Gordhan’s pay package. The SARS commissioner gets plus R4 million per annum. A senior member of cabinet gets around R2 million. Huh? I kid you not!

But that doesn’t impress Pravin Gordhan. If money motivated him he would have left politics years ago and be sitting on rafts of cash as a business leader today. Like Valli Moosa, Tokyo Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa and others.

Perhaps in 2009, after 13 years as minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel threw Pravin Gordhan the worst hospital pass since Naas Botha played the beloved game.

Maybe Trevor Manuel should be remembered as the patron saint of fiscal austerity. He invented it when the likes of George Osborn were in political nappies. Back when times were good.

Budget Speech 2

From 1996 to 2008 SA’s revenue streams exceeded non-interest spending. Manuel won fame by not borrowing and reducing national debt. He believed in saving for a rainy day. Even if there was a storm brewing in the form of a backlog in delivery accumulated by years of Apartheid.

With the benefit of hindsight, when times were good SA should have borrowed and built the infrastructure we so desperately need today. For example, instead of slashing ESKOM budgets Manuel should have been building more power stations.

Maybe that would have helped in getting SA on the road before tougher times arrived. It’s a bit difficult to borrow SA’s way out of the current hole when the economic growth rate is below the population growth rate.

So on Budget day we all wait for Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, to pull off an economic miracle without borrowing much.  No doubt he will start by addressing Governments appalling reputation in public spending and governance. And the taxpayer will no doubt have to make a contribution.

But it will take all 54 million South Africans to make a contribution get us on the road again.

Please join me in a FREE Learning intervention that attempts to unpack the National Budget in pictures not words.


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