Speaker, last week South Africa was let down by President Zuma's directionless state of the nation address that paid lip service to the National Development Plan, NDP, and provided little or no detail on the implementation of its key proposals.
Tomorrow, the Minister of Finance, Mr Gordhan, has a chance to table a brave budget that is aligned with the NDP and can start to rebuild confidence in our economy. In this year's budget, we believe that the Minister of Finance needs to deal directly with the key issues undermining South Africa's growth potential and, as such, the capacity of our economy to create jobs and support economic redress.
International rating agencies have highlighted three key concerns about the resilience of our economy that Minister Gordhan will have to tackle head- on. First and foremost, Minister Gordhan must commit to reforms to rebuild the institutional capacity of government to create an environment that is conducive to economic growth.
In accordance with the NDP, the Minister must start by implementing the core proposals such as the Youth Wage Subsidy. Secondly, he must commit government to substantive debt reductions. Running deficits when the economy is weak is a sound economic strategy provided the money goes into infrastructure and other assets that will boost growth in the longer term.
Thirdly, he must convince investors that government has a plan to boost economic growth and scale up actual spending on infrastructure. Both the NDP and the DA's plan for growth and jobs have strong focus on the necessity to increase spending on infrastructure to levels where we can shrink the R1,5 trillion maintenance backlog in infrastructure, which is critical to growth.
This year must be the year for implementation. The critical challenges facing the South African economy cannot be addressed by making more hollow promises. If we are to restore confidence in the economy, boost economic growth and reduce unemployment, government must focus on radically improving implementation in all spheres of government. Thank you, Speaker. [Time expired.] [Applause.]