We will continue to pursue innovation in government, says Premier Zille
This is according to Premier Helen Zille, who was addressing the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) Leader’s Angle event earlier in March.
Premier Zille was delivering an analysis of the recently tabled provincial budget including how it is formulated, its implications for the provincial economy and the complexities surrounding the process.
Despite various challenges including the recent drought which had severely impacted the agricultural sector, the Western Cape Government was determined to find innovative solutions that would create an enabling environment for economic growth.
“Even though our population has grown with more than a million people over just ten years, our unemployment levels have dropped. It is still much too high at 19, 5% but we are the only province that has an unemployment level of under 20% despite massive population growth.”
– Premier Helen Zille
Premier Zille however pointed out the obstacles to innovation in government. Rules and regulations designed to prevent corruption, often had the unintended consequence of stifling innovation
“If you don’t stick to the rules you don’t get a clean audit and when you try something new to be innovative and it doesn’t work, then you also don’t get a clean audit”, said Premier Zille.
“So the incentive is to just stick to what you have always done and never try anything new,” Premier Zille said.
The tender system also militates against innovation because of the need to curb corruption. “There are prescribed processes to go through, and a contractor can only respond if they are compliant with the tender specifications. If a product is new and offers a different solution to an old problem, the tender specifications will rarely be flexible enough to accommodate a new approach.”
Premier Zille also highlighted the impact of the current drought on the economy.
Under the provincial disaster declaration the Western Cape had already almost half a billion rand to mitigate the water crisis.
“Education, health and social development’s budgets were protected but human settlements took a big hit to try and balance the budget with the drought and revenue from national government,” Premier Zille said.
According to Premier Zille, economic growth remained the top priority in the province, amid a difficult climate nationally.
“Even though our population has grown with more than a million people over just ten years, our unemployment levels have dropped. It is still much too high at 19, 5% but we are the only province that has an unemployment level of under 20% despite massive population growth,” said Premier Zille.