A national budget is a blueprint of a government’s priorities in capital allocation—and there is broad agreement that the national budgets in South Africa over the past few years reflect intelligent choices in this regard. Thus education, healthcare, housing, security, and employment have enjoyed special attention. The delivery of the budgeted amounts, however, has been defective, and poor service delivery has been a common complaint.
It is self-evident that the starting point for a successful state is the enactment of good policies. Good policies alone are not enough to achieve a successful state. In the absence of a competent state, good policies don’t achieve their objectives.
As a percentage of GDP, fixed capital spending by the public sector stands at 7 percent of GDP, significantly lower than the target of 10 percent set out in the National Development Plan. A competent state has a well-defined vision and unity of purpose.
Until that happens, gross inequality of both income and wealth will prove to be an obstacle to unity of purpose.It follows that tackling the problem of inequality and poverty is both a moral and a fundamental policy imperative-and one that is achievable in our lifetimes.
We will defeat poverty and inequality only if we set a parallel objective of enhancing the capacity of the state to implement such policies.