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Participation in Norther Cape budget vote debates: FF Plus emphasises importance of good governance and economic growth

Debates on the budgets of various departments of the Northern Cape provincial government were held over the course of this past week. The golden thread that ran through the FF Plus's input is the need for good governance to ensure economic growth, which in turn, is a prerequisite for the alleviation of poverty and inequality in the province.

Vast distances between towns with fairly small populations characterise the Northern Cape. This raises the costs related to everyday activities for the provincial government, businesspeople and ordinary citizens alike. It also suppresses economic growth and limits opportunities for new role players to enter into the economy.

It would, however, be wrong to focus on the factors that seem to hold the Northern Cape back seeing as there is so much that counts in the province's favour.

The most important of these is the abundance of solar and wind-generated energy, which is becoming cheaper to exploit due to new technology. This opens up great possibilities for energy-intensive industries.

The Department of Economic Development ought to mediate the processing of iron and manganese ore in the province. Adding value would promote economic growth, while transporting smaller quantities will reduce the current pressure on provincial infrastructure.

Another pillar of the Northern Cape economy is agriculture. Extensive livestock farmers know that the next drought is always lurking around the corner, while irrigation farmers, particularly those in the lower Orange, must contend with floods.

Even well-established farmers needed support to survive the recent drought disaster, which is still ongoing in certain areas.

Small-scale and emerging farmers' fight for survival is even harder. Thus, in this context, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development ought to help establish new farming industries without disrupting food security.

Even the best economic opportunities can only be of benefit to the people of the province if they have been properly trained for it.

The provincial Department of Education is responsible for eliminating inequality among schools and disparities in the quality of education. Schools that underperform should be given additional support without neglecting those that perform well.

Building and maintaining schools and roads along with other basic infrastructure is in the hands of the Department of Roads and Public Works.

The vandalization of schools and the overuse of rural roads result in less money being available for new projects. So, the private sector and communities' cooperation in this regard is essential.

The Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison is tasked with enforcing the law on Northern Cape roads. The responsibility of ensuring the safety of those travelling in and through the province rests on their shoulders.

And although some road users see traffic officers in a negative light, their presence is absolutely vital for road safety.

It is disappointing that the honourable ideals mentioned above are often undermined by poor management and even corruption. The FF Plus is keeping a close eye on departments' execution of their respective duties.

Poor performance has no place and must not be tolerated in this province with its extensive poverty amid so many resources.

 

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