Pravin’s mid-term sleight of hand

In his mid-term budget review this week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan … hey, wake up! This is important, dammit. It’s your money we’re talking about here.

What’s that? You don’t care? You’re suffering from corruption fatigue? Not good enough, I’m afraid. We’re all sick and tired of seeing our taxes getting sucked into a black hole, and by black hole I don’t mean to be racist. Quite frankly, I don’t think white holes are any better than black holes.

My skills as an economic analyst are a little on the rusty side, not having practiced them for, like, ever. What I can say, though, is big up to Pravin for throwing a spanner in the public works in a brave attempt to cut off some of the gravy that’s feeding the train. Cut off or divert? It’s all smoke and mirrors.

The downgrading of perks, implemented across government, could save R2-billion. That was done with his left hand. With his right hand, Pravin allocated R2.25-billion to the civil servant wage bill. It would be like Peter paying Paul if they hadn’t emigrated to Perth.

Lesser financial analysts than I were reporting that Pravin had drawn a line in the sand on state spending. Why are they not saying that he has chiseled a line in bedrock? By couching Pravin’s actions in such a mealy-mouthed fashion, it gives him a way out. When his tight guidelines are surreptitiously loosened by agents of the status quo, he can turn around and shrug and say, “Well, you said it was a line in the sand, remember?”

I saw on the news that Pravin was expecting a 4.3% budget deficit in 2013/14. I don’t know what this means. Do we break out the champagne or the razor blades? I don’t even know what year he is talking about. Nobody says, “Yeah, I’m hoping to get off heroin in 2013/14.” If we can pin our plans down to a particular year, so can he.

From December 1st, there will be no more official credit cards, million-rand vehicles, luxury hotel stays and expensive home upgrades for cabinet ministers. Pravin pulled this off in what was reported as “a last-minute agreement with cabinet”. The movie is called Raging Bullshit and the scene goes like this.

Minister: But you can’t take away our …

Pravin: Shut it, you fat fuck. Either you all agree or I resign and expose you for the profligate pack of rapacious narcissists that you are.

Pravin gave the cops a big splodge of wonga, most of which will go on boxes of Nescafe’s instant cappuccino. Don’t scoff. Coffee is an essential tool in the fight against crime. Without it, the police would never be able to stay awake beyond 11am.

A paltry R444-million is to be spent on increasing visible policing. I thought it would cost a lot more to bribe officers to risk their lives walking around outside their cosy police stations.

Pravin also called on the labour movement to come to the party in stabilising the investment climate. This can only create confusion among the comrades.

“Hey! The finance minister wants us to come to his party.”

“Free beer?”

“Don’t know. Must be. He said nothing about bring your own.”

Pravin said no new money would be given to South African Airways while the company’s turnaround strategy was being evaluated. If I wanted SAA to stop losing money, my strategy would have all the planes turn around and never leave the ground again.

And, in a noble nod to nationalism, Pravin gave the defence ministry an extra R150-million so that more of our troops could go off to central Africa and risk their lives for no good reason whatsoever.

I have the solution to our government’s financial woes. Print more money. You can thank me later, Pravin.

 

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