I like June, especially this year. I love the World Cup. Super Eagles turned to super chickens and Bafana Bafana now know the difference between hosting and holding the World Cup.
It seems, that many big teams, namely France among others, might join me in watching the competition on the television soon. Budgets have also been read in East Africa.
We have heard expert opinions and been ‘wowed’ by counter opinions. Interestingly, these two seemingly unrelated events have a lot in common.
First, they are both about money, lots of money. Not just anyone gets to host the World Cup. You must, literally put your money where your mouth is and build ten world class stadiums and be sure to have superb hotels and a good transport system. National budgets?
In East Africa, you will be talking about the direction which US$ 60 billion will take.
Both events require good organization. To get the world to camp in South Africa, our brothers down south had to overcome and be seen to have overcome their ordinary ‘issues’ of crime and what not. Likewise, each finance minister will tell you that the national budget has no room for error. Not even typographical ones or else heads will roll.
Thirdly, both cases generate excitement with each person or sector hoping they will emerge winners. In both, today’s winners and losers may not be the same tomorrow.
But there are favorites like Brazil, Argentina and Germany; just like cigarettes and alcohol are always likely to attract tax.
The two activities are typically the ultimate ‘moments of truth’. We can always paint a rosy picture of the economy based on hopes and wishes but on budget day, the rubber meets the road. Just like some sectors of the economy.
Budgeting like World Cup is a team sport. The more coordinated the action from the eleven fellows on the pitch, the more likely the team will win. For a budget to succeed, every sector of the economy and indeed every citizen must participate in a well-coordinated manner.
The perception that it is a government thing is just wrong. Indeed, the private sector decides the budget’s success or failure. That is why countries with strong private sectors are economically vibrant and vice versa. The government is only the team manager, the players- the citizens score the goals.
Both the budget and World Cup are universal. In football, ladies seem to have figured out that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Dads are coming home earlier and have more predictable schedules during this one month period.
Likewise the budget affects us all. It may be planned by a few but a simple 1% rise in VAT can go long way in changing your consumption pattern whether or not you are conscious of it.
Lastly, both activities are borne of ambition. You would never dream of hosting the world cup if you had no ‘little madness’ in you. Sure everyone wishes to host it, but how many actually bid? Just read the budgets for the East African countries and get the meaning of the ambition. And why not?
I wish you and your favorite team all the best, this World Cup. I will go with Ghana myself. I also wish you to remember that the ‘Country Cup’ a.k.a The Budget is here and awaits your full participation without fail. Read it, contribute and participate fully.
Sam Kebongo is a Consultant at Serian Ltd.