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SAFCEI MEDIA COMMENT – Budget Speech

23 FEBRUARY 2024

“JUST ANOTHER GLOSSY BROCHURE BUDGET SPEECH” – SAFCEI

The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) notes a glaring disconnect between the government’s articulated priorities by different departments. The multi-faith environmental justice organisation says that the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) recently released by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) focused on an energy plan that included gas to power, coal extension, nuclear and other contested energy sources. However, none of these were mentioned in the budget speech although they have significant impact on the country’s overall budget.

SAFCEI’s Executive Director, Francesca de Gasparis says, “The Budget speech  circled the right areas of investment, renewables, electric cars and an increase in the carbon tax, if as a nation we are going to take steps towards addressing climate change and a just energy transition. However, due to the gap between this and stated energy plans, we are starting to wonder if this is a “glossy brochure” of what investors might want to be hearing while fossil fuel intensive systems are being proposed by other parts of government.”

SAFCEI says that to accelerate the move towards the just energy transition, to address the country’s energy crisis, and meet our development needs, requires more innovative investment from the State. The money allocated in the budget speech for climate-related disasters is insufficient, especially considering the impact extreme weather events have already had on  municipalities, and communities that will continue to increase and intensify.

“Municipalities need to be able to respond to the increase in flooding, droughts and fires. South Africa has an enormous challenge ahead and while the government is making many of the right noises, we need more details. Moreover, what we would like to see is real investment in the areas that affect the poor, because those are the most affected during climate disasters,” says de Gasparis.

Investment in public transport infrastructure that doesn’t run on fossil fuels would have been the type of forward thinking and big picture budget planning that we feel the government should be making. As our energy crisis intensifies with no end to load shedding in sight, a reform of the basic energy grants should be a part of the package that the government is offering to those most affected..

According to de Gasparis, “The real revolution and change that needs to happen is how we ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable in society are met. As a faith-based environmental justice organisation we are concerned with the ethical considerations and ensuring we don’t forget to think beyond the current crisis and plan for a more prosperous future for all who live in South Africa. That is where the government should focus its fiscal power, if it wants to make a lasting impact.”

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