Secret budget prioritization document should be made public
24 October 2017
The Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, who appears to be the new “budget tsar”, has refused my request for access to a document setting out government’s budget priorities, on the grounds that it is a “classified cabinet record”, just days before the medium-term budget policy statement is delivered in Parliament.
On 18 September 2017 I submitted a request for access to the so-called “Mandate Paper”, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000), which sets out government’s budget priorities, in term of a new “budget prioritization framework”.
However, in a letter dated 17 October 2017, my request was refused on the grounds that the “Mandate Paper” was a “classified cabinet record”.
The fact that the document setting out government’s budget priorities is classified and cannot be made public is bizarre, especially when the Constitution specifically states that the “budgetary processes must promote transparency”.
Worse, the reply states that:
“…the Minister indicated that the Mandate Paper is an instrument for budget prioritisation, and the process through which it is developed will be strengthened as part of the process of institutionalizing planning, which includes the introduction of legislation. At this stage it is part of the process that will culminate into the engagement of all stakeholders towards institutionalisation of planning more broadly, which will kick-start during the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Forum hosted by DPME on 12 and 13 October 2017.”
What this really means is unclear but what it does suggest is that, when it comes to the budget prioritization process, chaos reigns in government just days before the medium-term budget policy statement is delivered in Parliament.
That is why I have requested the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, to request the Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, to make a presentation on the budget prioritization process at the briefing on medium-term budget policy statement scheduled to take place on Thursday 26 October 2017 in Parliament.
Issued by David Maynier, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, 24 October 2017