As the budget week approaches, it is necessary to take stock and learn lessons from our budgetary priorities over the years, even more so in view of the pandemic situation
he budget season is a time traditionally for looking back, assessing progress and making new resolutions with regard to the direction governance will take over the next year. No wonder, government leaders, particularly those with less than satisfactory progress to report tend to be tentative and apprehensive. It is a time ideally for debating the various options and coming up with the most promising ones through a near consensus. In practice, it is a time for those with the most electoral support recently to explain their vision and defend their choices.
In ‘normal’ or quasi-normal circumstance, that is. The circumstances this time around are anything but.
In our Special Report this week we look at the burden of the past and the limits that set on our decision makers’ freedom on one hand and the pressing reasons for doing it differently this time on the other.
As the budget week approaches, it is necessary to take stock and learn lessons from our budgetary priorities over the years, even more so in view of the pandemic situation. There is a need is to rethink and reprioritise strategies given the shift in parameters and paradigms in the midst of a pandemic that is threatening global economic stability and has damaged economies the world over. Stabilising the country’s economy – which as one of our very learned contributors notes in his piece this week, “…was on a ventilator even pre-Covid” – requires, among other things, urgent introspection. There is a crying need to reduce the non-development expenditure and seek achievable self sufficiency.
While narratives surrounding a weak economy and the well being of the poor have been trotted out by successive governments, the incumbents included, it is clearly time for engaging the people. It is time also for governments across the developing world, this country’s included, to acknowledge that healthcare is not a developed world luxury but a basic need and a human right. While some people might be tempted to point out that even some of the better-resourced and developed health systems across the globe have also struggled to deal with the ongoing pandemic, it cannot be a reason to ignore a demand for a better and efficient healthcare as a budgetary priority in a country with a weak health infrastructure bordering a total collapse in the recent weeks. If anything, this pandemic should teach us to make health a higher priority in our budgets.