By Sifiso Dlamini | 2020-02-14
WITH Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg presenting his Budget Speech this morning, Members of Parliament have expressed their desire for more funds to be channelled towards youth empowerment.
The legislators and the public are eagerly waiting for the budget in preparation for the upcoming financial year, 2020/21. Members of Parliament have identified key areas they expect more finds to be channelled towards and focus for the upcoming financial year and these include youth empowerment, education as well as the health sector.
Sithobelweni MP Bhekitje Dlamini said as representatives of the masses, they were judged based on their deliverables, which are mainly development at Tinkhundla level as well as creating opportunities for the public, especially the youth who constituted a large portion of the country’s population.
He highlighted that he expected more funds to be channelled towards youth empowerment. “My expectations from the minister of finance’s budget speech, is more focus being put in youth empowerment as a means to eradicate the prevalent youth unemployment rate,” he said.
Timphisini MP Nelson Mamba indicated that instead of focussing on creating formal employment to absorb the out of school youth, there was a need to channel more funds towards equipping the youth with skills. He said through these skills, the youth could make a living, as well as creating employment opportunities for their peers.
Health and education need increased budgets
Members of Parliament have identified the education and health sectors as priority areas.
The MPs said they expected more funds to be directed towards the above mentioned sectors. Manzini North MP Macford Sibandze said health and education should be given huge attention during the allocation of funds by government. “Health, education and agriculture because a hungry, uneducated and unhealthy nation is politically vulnerable,” he said.
Timphisini MP Nelson Mamba said moving towards 2022, it was important for the nation to be educated. He said one of the most concerning issues with regards to education was the late release of funds by government, which annually resulted in tertiary institution students to resorting to strike actions, which disrupted the student’ education.’
Mamba added that the late release of the free primary education grants also affected school operations.
“The focus moving forward should be ensuring the early release of funds by government,” he said. He added that there was a need to increase the budget for the ministry of education and training.
IMPROVED SERVICE PROVISION IS KEY
Members of Parliament expect the budget to speak to the needs of the people.
This was revealed by Manzini North MP Macford Sibandze yesterday as part of his expectations regarding the budget speech.
The MP stated that after having had engagements with the finance ministry through the finance portfolio committee, as legislators they expected a budget that would speak to the needs of the people, in other words a pro-people budget. “It has to speak to community activities that will lead to economic stimulus, job creation and economic growth. People in the Tinkhundla centres do not need much, as long as they have access to portable water and electricity, as well as accessible roads,” Sibandze said.
The Manzini North MP said he was happy to be part of the multi-million Emalangeni water project in his constituency.
“It pained me as part of the 9th parliament to have left office with three chiefdoms lacking water services.” He added that he believed God brought him back in the 11th parliament to leave office with more than 3 000 homes at Edvwaleni, Mzimnene and Mnyenyweni with water in their yards.”
The MP also noted that there was a need to intensify the provision of accessible feeder roads.
Sibandze noted that currently there were challenges regarding feeder roads as they were inaccessible.
“We have a serious crisis of feeder roads which can obstruct development, so we hope this will be addressed,” he said.
He was seconded by Timphisini MP Nelson Mamba, who said their main task was to ensure that development began at Tinkhundla level.
He said he expected more funds to be channelled towards providing vital services to the people, such as provision of portable water and electricity.
Sithobelweni MP Bhekitje Dlamini said the upgrading of feeder roads could also serve as an employment generating exercise, as it would create employment for local people within the communities.
We expect something on CoLA
MPs expect the minister of finance to address the long overdue implementation of the Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA).
Civil Servants and government have been engaged in negotiations over CoLA for the past three years.
This has resulted in civil servants engaging in numerous strike actions in an attempt to convince government to implement CoLA.
Timphisini MP Nelson Mamba indicated that they were expecting the issue to be addressed during the budget speech. He said the issue has been long overdue and the recently implemented fuel, electricity levy, bus fare hikes and sin tax had increased the burden on the ordinary Liswati.
He said this was tainting the image of the country as strike actions were broadcasted worldwide. He added they were anticipating that the issue would be addressed during speech from the throne in the state opening of parliament. He however added they were eagerly anticipating the budget speech from the minister of finance to address the above mentioned issues.
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