PRETORIA, South Africa has officially welcomed Britain’s 2.2-million-pound funding towards capacity building in the country’s public sector.

The funding of 2.2 million sterling that has now been secured from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) will further strengthen the implantation of the Capacity Development Strategy (CDS), said acting Accountant General Zanele Mxunyelwa on Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Treasury and European Union (EU) ceremony to welcome Britain as a partner of the Financial Management Improvement Programme III (FMIP), Mxunyelwa said the country welcomed the partnership.

The Chief Director of Capacity Building at the National Treasury, Mark Kuipers, said the funding was secured three months ago.

Mxunyelwa said the continuous capacity-building programme in public finance in South Africa, commonly referred to as FMIP III, is a programme instituted in 2012 between the National Treasury of South Africa and the EU to build capacity in South Africa, with the aim of addressing challenges such as a lack of public financial management (PFM) qualifications.

There should be transparent and efficient use of public resources, said Mxunyelwa, adding that such challenges hampered inclusive growth and service delivery.

The FMIP III, which comes to an end in May 2018, builds on the work done by its predecessors, Financial Improvement Programme 1 and 2. FMIP III and the previous programmes focused on providing technical support facilities.

All three programmes have been managed at the office of the Accountant General in co-operation with various government departments and development institutions. The programmes have been funded by the EU, which has been making significant contributions to strengthen PFM capacity in South Africa. Mxunyelwa described the partnership with the EU, which has extended over 23 years, as an incredible one.

She said the funding from Britain would be used for critical capacity-building initiatives, including monitoring and evaluation, revenue management and infrastructure procurement. The contribution will go a long way in efforts to build an inclusive economy and the delivery of basic services to communities, said Mxunyelwa.

She said the South African government had been investing considerably in building PFM capacity in government with its own resources but that this was not enough, hence the move to draw extensively on technical assistance or funding from international development platforms.

The South Africa envisioned in our Constitution and by citizens of our country includes economic transformation, inclusive growth and efficient public service delivery which all require good and sound public financing management, Mxunyelwa said.

British High Commissioner (ambassador) Nigel Casey said the decision to become involved in the programme was because of the fact that Britain, like South Africa, faced acute pressure on its public finances.

Costs are rising all the time but no one is really keen on increased taxes. So sound public financial management is essential for efficient and effective service delivery, poverty reduction and inclusive growth. It is crucial for fiscal consolidation and maintaining fiscal discipline, said Casey.