The strong contingent of the Newcastle business community descended at the Black Rock Casino on the 1st of November 2016, to share their views in preparation for the provincial budget to be tabled by the MEC for Finance in KwaZulu-Natal, Belinda Scott, in early March 2017.
The budget breakfast, held in partnership with Newcastle Municipality, Majuba TVET College as well as Absa Bank, who sponsored the function, is a signature outreach for KZN Treasury with a view to engage with all sectors of the community to ensure a balanced budget for the province.
Mayor of Newcastle Municipality, Makhosini Nkosi during his welcome address, said the opportunity afforded to them as Newcastle residents was going to help them to influence the preparation of the budget for 2017/18.
“We understand the difficult task that KZN Treasury has in putting together the provincial budget under very difficult economic times. We have confidence in you as KZN Treasury and we applaud you for giving communities a chance to partake in the budget process”.
Bonga Nxumalo of Igalelozwide farming, said in order to address the challenges of unemployment, there was a need to bring the youth into agriculture. “We have a programme called smart farming and we need partnerships to ensure agricultural development,” he said.
Mandla Mthethwa said, “we have skills in Newcastle that we need to use to develop our economy and it is important for us all to have a full understanding of the budget so we can know the role to play in shaping our future”.
Other views include the need for more youth to be represented in the budget discussions because they are the ones who should make more input to help shape the future of this province as well as the need for Newcastle to focus more on agriculture.
Sanele Mlotshwa; Principal of Majuba TVET College, said their partnership in the budget breakfast is to emphasise the fact that skills development cannot be divorced from the budget and economic processes.
“The provincial budget must translate into service delivery and economic development through growth of businesses. For businesses to grow, they need skills. As a training college, we produce skilled people who will help in the development of our communities and we need our local businesses to afford them opportunities to showcase their skills and contribute to the economic development of Newcastle,” he alluded.
Faisal Mkhize; Managing Executive of Absa Bank, said it was inspiring for Absa Bank to partner with local stakeholders, especially Majuba TVET College, to ensure that they build, not only the economy but also develop skills that are desperately needed by our province.
“This is democracy in action. Government has come to Newcastle to share ideas on how better we can develop our province. We must grab these kinds of opportunities and make our views heard so we can together shape our destiny. As a private partner, we are further encouraged to see the National Minister of Finance putting more funds into skills development in the area of education,” said Mkhize.
Head of Department in the KZN Treasury; Simiso Magagula said, “When you develop the budget for the province, it is very easy to lose sight of the involvement of key stakeholders. We are here to engage with business so we can have a balanced budget process.
“There are a number of challenges that affect the preparation of the budget. One of them is the need to raise money for free education after protracted student protests, the need to secure and strengthen border security along the SA-Mozambican border. However, there are very good things that government has done with the budget. Today was the time to engage with business and take note of their views and this is what we need as government”.