Speech on the Report of the Standing Committee on Finance on the Responsible Spending Bill [B9-2023]
Speech by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

Rapidly escalating public debt and debt service costs are unsustainable

May 9, 2024

House Chair,

The ACDP wishes to thank the Honourable Dion George for sponsoring the Responsible Spending Bill.

We in the ACDP share concerns about the rapidly escalating public debt and debt service costs which are becoming unsustainable. Our debt service costs of R381 billion per year (that’s more than a billion Rand per year) are crowding out much needed expenditure on other far more important issues and items such as health, education, crime prevention and, of course, infrastructure development.

The Bill in this report seeks to address this fiscal challenge by proposing a strategic shift to fiscal policy towards more responsible spending and that makes sense. 

The National Treasury acknowledged the Bill’s alignment with government’s own fiscal strategy, emphasising the importance of sound fiscal rules in enhancing credibility, mitigating risks and reducing debt service costs. 

One just needs to read the National Treasurer’s documents where they highlight the risks facing us, and this eminently reasonable Bill sets out mitigating reasons and mitigating factors as to avoid those risks. 

The ACDP in its Elections Manifesto also set out the need for good stewardship of state resources. Another phrase for good stewardship is ‘responsible spending’ and given the urgent need to address spiralling public debt and debt service costs, it doesn’t make sense why this Bill was not accepted, unless of course one accepts the fact that it is a Private Member’s Bill and, as other speakers have alluded to, in the last five years not one Private Member’s Bill including my innocuous Animal Protection Bill — absolutely innocuous — was supported by this Parliament. Thankfully in that case the Animal Welfare organisations are all rallying behind the ACDP because of that bill, and we will bring it again in the next Parliament.

However, when it gets to this Bill, it is regrettable that it was not considered, at least its desirability, and whilst the committee itself highlighted that it was positive and that more consultation was required, at least it could have considered the desirability for the next Parliament to consider it. The ACDP will not support this Report. 

I thank you.

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