Tighten control, Fin24 users tell Gordhan

2013-02-19 16:27 - Fin24
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Sapa) ~ SAPA
Cape Town - With the National Budget Speech by Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan looming, Fin24 users are urging him to rein in wasteful government costs.

Gordhan is expected to make his budget speech on February 27 and a steady stream of Fin24 users have voiced the most urgent issues they want the minister to deal with.

While policy wonks and economists expect the speech to touch on issues such as mining taxes, the national health insurance system and the national development plan, some Fin24 users are expecting tighter control of government spending.

Charles Brunyee wrote in to Fin24 noting that he had read statistics showing that South Africa has one of the most expensive governments in the world.

"In a developing country like ours it is obvious that the cost of government must be kept to a minimum so tax revenue can be allocated to more productive areas such as infra-structure and education.

"Please can you send this message loud and clear to the ANC government and let it be seen by the tax payer that government excesses are being curbed," he said.

In 2009 when President Jacob Zuma unveiled his first cabinet he made sweeping changes announcing a team comprising of 34 ministers that marked a break from the smaller 28 member cabinet in the Mbeki era.

At the time Zuma said the new cabinet was designed "to achieve visible and tangible socio-economic development" but critics dismissed the expansion as a waste of taxpayers' money.

Users Mark Osborn and A Shaw called on the minister to act tough on extravagant government spending with tighter control on funds given to government departments and bringing fraudsters to book quickly.

Another user, Yashmita Singh, urged for transparency asking for "evidence of government officials being taxed".

Jan Buurman pointed out that there was great potential for "huge savings" within local government departments. Buurman advised Gordhan to "link all municipalities' finances to a central oversight room. He said that this will make provision for mistakes and shortfalls to be picked up much sooner than 6 months after year-end.

However, user Ian Shortreed called for an overhaul at local, provincial and national levels. Gordhan must to do "everything possible to completely eliminate all the abuse of public funds at all levels of the government", he emphasised.

"Using the available upgraded resources of the National Treasury, he needs to ensure that the purse strings are so tightly controlled that the optimum level of service delivery is ensured, achieved and maintained by each and every department."

Shortreed deplored spending on "over-the-top functions, overseas travel, self-indulgence practices, luxury motor vehicles, state housing privileges and other similar excesses". 

South Africa has a sound base of annual fiscal income, wrote Shortreed but he highlighted that it was the manner in which taxpayers' cash was being used that was at the root of the country's biggest problems.

Shamane Ramlall called on Gordhan to "tighten the purse strings with all the parliamentarians; and the country will have lots more money to use on the good people of this country".

"Our leadership is using, abusing and squandering public funds everyday and nothing is done about it".

Ramlall also challenged government leaders. "If the president and his ministers are TRUE PATRIOTS of SA, they will gladly let go of their luxuries/perks and ensure that the poor people of this country are taken care of decently."

George van der Merwe wrote that what Gordhan needs to do is rein in state waste and expenditure because taxpayers were already overburdened, but he was doubtful that the minister would take heed.

"Will he listen? Somehow I doubt it," noted Van der Merwe.

He further added that the government must ensure proper compliance and accountable expenditure.

"South Africans deserve an accountable, fiscally responsible government that spends the money it collects wisely as opposed to just hitting the taxpayer every time it has a shortfall," wrote Van der Merwe.

Some Fin24 users also expressed a willingness to pay more taxes provided that state budgets were properly utilised. 

"I do not mind paying tax as it is necessary for our country to grow and prosper, but it is seriously concerning that our state departments under spend on their budgets," wrote Lionel Andries.

"We must reach our targets if we want to eradicate poverty in this country", he said while terming as "unacceptable" state enterprises not adding value to the economy and instead contributes to the downwards trend of the GDP. 

Concurring with Andries, Peter Hutchison stated: "Taxpayers will not mind paying taxes, even increased taxes if they can be seen to being used for correct purposes and not being embezzled or otherwise misdirected."

 - Fin24

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