DURBAN – Building a strong partnership between government and the private sector was the centre of focus at the Post-Budget Business Breakfast held at the Durban ICC on Friday morning.
The event, hosted by the KZN Provincial Treasury in association with Absa and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry was attended close to 200 guests, mainly business leaders, banking executives, economists, academics, senior government officials and other professionals.
The business breakfast was held a day after the MEC for Finance Belinda Scott tabled the 2019/2020 Provincial Budget at the KZN Legislature.
Commenting on the importance of the Post-Budget Business Breakfast Simiso Magagula, the head of department at Provincial Treasury, said the post-budget event helps to improve the process of budgeting.
“There is still going to be a budgeting process next year and the year after that and so this is a useful exercise. We also want to depart from the myth that government is something out there and the private sector is out there and these are rivals,” Magagula said.
The sentiments were echoed by MEC Scott who said the growth and development of KwaZulu-Natal depends on government working side by side with the private sector.
As this was the last budget in the current term of office, Scott expressed satisfaction that the province was in good financial health and that the provincial Treasury has led by example having received five consecutive clean audits.
“Fiscal consolidation has been a very difficult journey,” said Scott adding that she has been very lucky to work with a team of dedicated officials at the Provincial Treasury. “This is by far the best Treasury in the country and these are not my words but they have been reiterated even at national level. I am just part of an incredible team,” she said.
The business breakfast was fully sponsored by Absa which reiterated its partnership of working with the provincial Treasury.
“As a fully Pan-African bank, we view our partnership with Provincial Treasury and KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government as the bedrock on which we have built significant depth of skills and experience to service the Provincial Government. This is the 7th year of our partnership on this particular event and I must say, it has been a strategically fulfilling one, said Ronnie Mbatsane, Absa’s Managing Executive for KZN and Mpumalanga.
“Without a doubt the budget tabled by the MEC is a blueprint for all stakeholders to stand together in ensuring a better life for all, despite the budget cuts. As a bank, we still strongly believe that education plays a critical role in building and empowering a sustainable society”, he said.
The bank has invested a total of R37m in 2017 and 2018 in scholarships, seeing more than 430 students benefiting across all four higher education institutions in KZN. Absa has also absorbed a number of students as permanent employees in their branches from various TVETs across the province through their Workplace Based Exposure Programme.
In the aid of supporting SMEs, the institute has funded over R150m in the past three years through their Enterprise Development division.
“This is what we imply by bringing possibilities to life – continually adapting to find solutions to our clients’ needs. We want to be a partner that responds to solving our social and economic challenges in KZN.” Mbatsane elaborated.
The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s President, Musa Makhunga stated that in order to achieve KwaZulu-Natal’s required inclusive economic growth goals and objectives, the Durban Chamber believes that there needs to be more opportunities, like this event, for organised business to interact with the policy makers and government.
“It is the Durban Chamber’s firm belief that there needs to be greater cooperation and collaboration between the public and private sectors. Both parties need to do more to actively facilitate meaningful discussions that positively impact business as well as address the socio-economic issues of the Province. As a representative of organised business, the Durban Chamber believes there are a number of opportunities that exist between organised business and the provincial and municipal governments, and the Durban Chamber is committed to supporting the Province on initiatives and projects that increase investment into critical areas in the Province, creating meaningful employment and access to opportunities, and addressing the socio-economic issues of the Province,” added Makhunga.
The business breakfast culminated in a stimulating panel discussion moderated by Magagula. The panelists were Professor Sibusiso Moyo, Absa economist Kgotso Radira and Treasury official Lorraine Naidoo.