Wednesday, October 28, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Darren Parker.
Political parties have generally congratulated Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on a positive budget.
The African National Congress was impressed with the government's "looking at carefully borrowing to fund government expenditure", as well as the "emphasis on prudent spending and accountability by all public servants". The Democratic Alliance welcomed the minister's renewed focus on job creation and his hard line on inflation, public sector wage increases and infrastructure bottlenecks. "Minister Gordhan has passed his first test," the official opposition said, adding that there were a number of items on which Gordhan's hand was forced "owing to a combination of bad judgement, poor management and incompetence".
The Independent Democrats said that Gordhan had shown the right amount of discipline in dealing with the economic crisis, but expressed concern over the large budget deficit of 7,6%, which it said was unsustainable over the long term.
African countries are drawing up a unified position this week to try to pry open the markets of developed countries ahead of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference in Geneva at the end of November.
Delegates to an African Trade Ministers conference in Cairo said that continuing delays on a new global trade deal are crippling African development, especially in the wake of the global economic crisis. African nations are seeking broader access to developed markets for their agricultural products.
Despite an intensive work programme agreed last month, WTO talks have not achieved enough to reach a core deal in implementing the Doha negotiations, now in its eighth year.
The South African government will, over the next three years, undertake a phased reprioritisation of public spending, the first phase of which will seek to reduce "unnecessary and wasteful expenditure".
The second phase will consider rationalising public entities and agencies, shift resources from back-office operations to frontline services, and reform the procurement process to reduce unit costs and corruption.
The final phase will include a comprehensive expenditure review, the Treasury said in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, explaining that this phase will look at reshaping the way in which public services are delivered and resources are allocated.
Also making headlines:
US President Barack Obama officially extends sanctions on Sudan.
The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement revealed yesterday that President Jacob Zuma's expanded Cabinet costs more than half a billion rand.
Mozambique holds elections today, with current President Armando Guebuza expected to win.
And, a Darfur rebel group rejects an African Union high-level panel report.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.