Home Opinion and Features Parliament, treasury must be held accountable for the allocation of revenue

Parliament, treasury must be held accountable for the allocation of revenue

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There are many examples of money wasted and misappropriated or money spent on unimportant issues while our law enforcement agencies, policing and national defence spending gets neglected.

Picture: Itumeleng English

PARLIAMENT and Treasury must be held accountable to the people of the country for the appropriation of the revenue

South Africans are beyond sick and tired of corruption, State Capture, crime and a total lack of consequence management. If we are unhappy about the government’s handling of illegal actions, how in line are they with the wishes of the people of South Africa?

The majority by far of our citizens wish for the country to be a peaceful and safe place, founded by the principles contained in our Constitution, a country that is fair and equitable for all its people.

The following organisations would make submissions on the Appropriations Bill: the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town; the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria; the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, the Public Service Accountability Monitor;and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

One of the requirements of the bill is public involvement.

More ordinary citizens should make their voices heard and their priorities for appropriation where they perceive the need to be the greatest.

If we were to ask the people to allocate/appropriate our spending what would an informed public vote for?

  • Total consolidated spending amounts to R2 trillion each year over the medium term.
  • The bulk of the spending is allocated to learning and culture (R402.9 billion), social development (R335.2bn) and health (R248.8bn) in 2021/22.
  • The fastest-growing functions over the medium term are economic development, community development and general public services.
  • The majority of funding for new and urgent priorities is provided through reprioritisation and reallocation of existing baselines.

The question is does the government have its priorities in line with the people’s needs? The first observation must be its high percentage of spending on salaries.

This Gini coefficient of Ministers and senior government employees pay relative to the per capita income of the country is of the highest in the world.

For example, we have a President who is a billionaire, a man allegedly keeping as much as R60 million just lying around in one of his many homes.

In another example, Chery Khala of the Citizen newspaper reported on June 3: “Municipal managers at some of South Africa’s financially ailing municipalities are laughing all the way to the bank.

Meanwhile, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille announced in December 2019 that the establishment of Salvokop, in Tshwane, as a mixed-use development by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), which would drive integration and act as a catalyst for private sector investment.

The total current development opportunity of 524,000 m² is valued at an estimated R18bn and will include provision for office, commercial, residential, retail and open space, in addition to schools and healthcare facilities, besides others. This price equates to more than R34,351 per square meter (sqm).

The pricing of De Lille’s project is highly questionable and perhaps in line with the cost of flags.

According to Aecom their publication titled, Property & Construction Cost Guide the cost of offices are estimated as follows:

  • Low-rise office park development with standard specification R8,500 – R 10,400;
  • Low-rise prestigious office park development R 10,900 – R16,200;
  • High-rise tower block with standard specification R12,000 – R16,200
  • High-rise prestigious tower block R 16,200 – R 20,400.

What is most disturbing is that the government sees it fit to build new offices instead of renovating existing office buildings belonging to government or any other of the multitude of vacant office building across the country. The renovation cost will not exceed R6,000 per square meter. The number of half-empty office buildings across many of South Africa’s once bustling commercial hubs has reached sky-high levels.

In Sandton, South Africa’s largest business node by far, office vacancies rose to a record 22.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021, up from a pre-pandemic 17 percent, according to the quarterly “Rode Report on the State of the SA Property Market”.

According to a report from JLL, titled South African Real Estate Investment Review and Outlook 2021/22, the average lettable area of offices sold in Gauteng roughly halved in 2021 and picked up elsewhere in South Africa. The inverse was true for the weighted average sales rate per sqm.

“Sales rates in 2021 varied, with an average rate of R20,964 per sqm being achieved,” it noted.

Why develop new offices at 50 percent more per sqm compared to what is available in abundance in the market?

To build new offices for government in the light of over-supply of offices in the market is nothing but disgraceful, incompetent and attest to a decision making process that fails to comprehend the real needs of the people of South Africa.

How is it possible that this expense is allocated from the Community Development Budget? Are the government employees now the community?

According to De Lille, “This phase is expected to contribute an estimated R6.5bn of blended financing. The National Treasury is assisting the DPWI with accessing government grants and the DPWI will also be applying for funding from the president’s R100bn infrastructure fund.”

What the people of the country need to be a priority in the appropriation of government spending, is to start with the following grim numbers.

This as statistics show South Africans are increasingly unsafe in their homes, cars and public spaces. A snapshot of South Africa’s alarming crime statistics reveals that in the first three months of this year the following statistics are our reality today: 6,083 murders, 10,818 rapes, 40,960 residential burglaries. South Africans are more likely to be murdered, raped or assaulted in their homes – and walking in a park or driving on the road has become increasingly dangerous.

There are many other examples of money wasted and misappropriated or money spent on unimportant issues while our law enforcement agencies, policing and national defence spending gets neglected.

The people want to see a strong Prosecuting Authority, efficient and slick dealings at our court rooms. The people also want to see a strong confident and effective police force to match and suppress the attempts of thugs, robbers, corrupted people and thieves in general.

They must be issued with orange overalls and stiff sentences and put behind bars. More money should be appropriated to get effective law and order back in our country. The mockery of our courts must end.

Corrie Kruger is an Independent Analyst.

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