United People’s Movement (UPM) parliamentarian Jan van Wyk says debating the national budget is a “waste of time” as the inputs will not have an influence on the budget as tabled.
Contributing to the budget debate in the National Assembly last week, Van Wyk, who is also the party’s national chairperson, said requests for MPs to be part of the budget process had been ignored to a certain extent, yet it is expected of them, especially the opposition, to approve the budget without pointing out shortcomings.
But Van Wyk said provision was indeed made to increase old-age pensions, which he appreciates. However, he said, there is an urgent need to revisit the amounts paid out for social grants.
“These amounts have remained the same for some years now,” said the MP. Touching on the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) Bill, Van Wyk said the framework as an instrument to promote economic empowerment would have a negative effect on direct investments. Van Wyk further said the resettlement programme has failed the masses, as it continues to benefit the selected elite.
“It is clear that the government is adamant to put through efforts to allocate land to the elite before the second land conference,” he said.
The mass housing programme has also failed, he said. “Research has highlighted poor communication between stakeholders as an explanation for the mismatch between the demand for and supply of housing.”
“Across the country houses built under the mass housing programme stand vandalised and without occupants. Houses meant for low-income groups have become inaccessible to them, but easy to get by middle-income earners instead. Housing is a human right and in order to have a house you first need to have land,” he added.
According to him, most local authorities use land prices and the costs to service land as an excuse to avail land to developers at the cost of the poor and low-income groups.
“Land prices have been inflicted by those who can afford it, and nothing has been done to attend to the problem at hand,” he said.
Van Wyk says across the country huge portions of urban land are being made available at high cost to generate income for local authorities to cover their running expenses, instead of using the funds generated for the servicing of land.
UPM’s Jan van Wyk