HON. MLISWA: On a point of order! Mr. Speaker Sir, the debate on the budget is probably the core business of this Parliament and it is saddening that others are not here. My question is – what are they doing in this House? The country is watching us, tax payers’ money – we are supposed to be debating. Those empty seats are just noise makers, they are never here to debate anything meaningful and yet this is tax payers’ money. Let us ask ourselves – are we doing justice to the money that people are putting for us to be able to execute our duties when this nation is suffering? We come here, get our fuel coupons, stay in hotels, we keep quiet, make noise and we are not here to even listen to the budget. We accuse the Minister of Finance for not being here; who is hypocrite? The Minister of Finance is here and you are not here. So, it is important that it is recorded that this budget will determine the course of this country. Failure for Members of Parliament to participate in the debate of this budget; it is disaster for this country. As such, I implore the Chief Whips of the relevant parties to whip their Members to be here so that when you hear people like Hon. BitI who was a former Minister of finance debating, there is value in that and we must be able to really pin our ears to a good debate. I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order! Thank you Hon. Member. I think Hon. Mliswa is right but because there is a quorum and the Committee Chairpersons were responding; we have also given other Members to respond and so there is no problem. Please, may we encourage Chief Whips to make their Members come in because this is a very important debate. Hon. Member, you may continue.
HON. BITI: Apart from the challenge of low productivity, weak GDP figures, we have the challenge of fiscal ill-discipline reflected in a gross and acerbic budget deficit. That we have a budget deficit that is in excess of 15% of DGP is not acceptable but that is the order of the day.
We also have a challenge, until recently, of weak and none aggregate demand unlike the crisis of 2007/8 where we had a crisis of under accumulation with all of us being billionaires and trillionaires but with hardly anything available to buy in shops. The current crisis has been characterised by shops that have actually been full of goods but people and persons have not had the capacity to purchase goods and commodities.
We have also had the challenge of currency and currency distortations, the shortage of cash and the challenges around the exchange rate. These are the issues that are affecting our country; these are the issues that our people are living with. Therefore, the 2019 budget was going to be a critical one. It was always going to be a critical one because to the ordinary average person in the street, he or she expected a remedy out of the ills and mischief arresting this country.
I submit Mr. Chairperson, that the 2019 budget had to be a remedial budget, one that dealt with the challenges of currency distortions, fiscal ill discipline, crippling domestic debt and crippling sovereign debt. The question Mr. Speaker is; did the budget in fact pass the test; did the budget in fact provide an answer, a solution to the challenges that I have identified? With great respect to the Minister, I submit that the budget did not provide a remedy, an answer and a solution to these structural challenges that are affecting our country.
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