Gordhan urges better state spending

Government spending needs to produce better quality results, Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday.

He told delegates at a public lecture at the University of Johannesburg that government needs a renewed focus on improving spending efficiency and "outputs" of money spent by the state.

"We have one of the biggest budgets in [sic] education in the world. Why are we not getting the quality outcomes that we require? We invest a lot of money in health. Why are we not getting the right quality of outcome so that South African citizens can say they are proud of the kind of health system that they have?" he asked.

As part of creating a capable state, as described in the national development plan, universities need to do more to produce public servants that understand "what it means to deliver value for money". Gordhan said both developed and developing countries face the problem of a strong elite that controls both financial and political institutions.

"It has become very clear that societies that have very strong elites that control the politics of the country, and thereby inform and shape economic institutions of countries, leave behind countries that are highly divided and unequal," he said.

'Culture of corruption'
South Africans need to develop inclusive political and economic institutions "where everybody has the ability, despite their background, to have an opportunity to advance and share in the benefits of growth in that particular society".

Individuals seeking to benefit from government is a growing problem among developing nations. Gordhan said the public discourse on corruption is focused only on government, leaving the private sector untouched.

"We are all very proud of the fact that in 2010 we delivered the [Soccer World Cup] infrastructure as it was required by Fifa. We are very proud that we spent billions of rands delivering that infrastructure. But it has also emerged that exorbitant profits were made, that collusion took place. But you don't describe that collusion as corruption because it is not happening in government," he said. Government rarely does business with itself and there is always a private-sector partner involved in government corruption. 

He said corruption is becoming a social problem and the "culture of corruption" has to be fought. – Sapa


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