Former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel has called on the public to scrutinise the Budget when it is tabled in the national legislature on February 21.
Manuel said when National Treasury releases the Estimates of National Expenditure the public must go through every single item to determine where the money will go to.
He said national departments make commitments and the role of the public is to establish if the money that has been allocated has been used to improve the lives of the people.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will table his Budget speech in Parliament in the next few weeks.
Manuel said it was the job of government to improve the lives of the people and deliver on basic services.
The budgeting process is where departments identity projects they will undertake in the fiscal year, explained Manuel during his address at the FW de Klerk Foundation annual conference in Cape Town on Friday.
Manuel added that public access to education, health, water sanitation and other public services is a priority.
“The first part is provided for in the budgeting process. Each department contracts with parliament. They contract with parliament and the contracts are bound in a big document called the Estimates of National Expenditure. It’s about 1,200 pages. It will be released in a few days time alongside the Budget and every department has to explain to all of us as citizens what they will do with the money that will be announced on that occasion.
“We don’t know that it exists in that form. But it does. Part of my invitation today is, be more interested in what those commitments are. Then you can follow through because on a monthly basis in terms of the Public Finance Management Act they are actual expenditures of the past month. You can see there are deviations, and we need to take the information and use it to ensure that the quality of life improves because if we don’t do that, we are not living Constitutional values,” said Manuel.
If the public follows on what the government is spending the money on it will be able to determine if that is what each department had committed to do.
The Estimates of National Expenditure serves as a guide for people to know where the money has gone to.
The budgeting process is a critical area in terms of the delivery of services and whether commitments by departments have been met.