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Leadership Story: Introducing Medium Term Budgeting in Post 94 South Africa

6 September 2018
Interviewee Profile - Andrew Donaldson

Andrew’s career in public finance dates back to his appointment as Deputy Director in the Fiscal Analysis Unit of the former Department of Finance in 1993. In 2001 he was appointed Deputy Director-General and head of the Budget Office, and subsequently served as head of the Public Finance Division, responsible for expenditure planning and policy advice. At the National Treasury, Andrew was notably responsible for the introduction of a medium-term expenditure framework in 1998 and led the subsequent reform of the budget process. He served as the inaugural head of the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), and continues to advise on public finance issues while working at the University of Cape Town.

Introducing Medium Term Budgeting in Post 94 South Africa

Following the end of Apartheid and the publication of the 1996 Constitution, South Africa had to implement an “equitable division of revenue” between national government, provinces and municipalities. In order to provide for much-needed social services and infrastructure, South Africa needed to take a longer-term view on its public finances as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the fiscal system and of government priorities. The introduction of a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was a key part of such reform.

The reform was more than a different budget compilation, included a more consultative approach to expenditure planning, establishment of a Ministers’ Committee on the Budget, in-depth expenditure reviews, engagement with Cabinet, and greater transparency in the publication of the budget information and reporting on disbursement of funds and service delivery outcomes. In November 1997, The Parliament approved South Africa’s first Medium Term Budget Policy Statement and the first national Budget with three-year departmental MTEF estimates was published in February 1998.

Andrew recalls the deep enthusiasm for this reform in a new administration at a turning point in South Africa’s history as well as the organizational and technical challenges faced in introducing a MTEF.

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