Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget has received the thumbs-up for his plans to create jobs, help small businesses and cut out corruption.
Western Cape Finance MEC Alan Winde, said: “The Western Cape post the census is getting more money, which is welcome.”
He will detail how the money would be directed in his own budget speech next week.
“Tax relief, especially to small businesses, is very welcome. Our economy is driven by many, many small businesses, and this is especially relevant in the Western Cape.
“I welcome the youth wage subsidy, although it is less money than was originally spoken about. We all know that youth unemployment is the biggest issue in our province and in South Africa.”
Winde said he was delighted by the news of tax relief for special economic zones (economic hubs) which Saldanha was due to become, as was the City of Cape Town on a “green economy” project.
Winde said he enjoyed Gordhan’s repeated mention of the growth imperative.
“We have to aggressively look at where we fit in emerging markets, and in the whole world, to strategically decide on where our growth will be. Growth is the only way we are going to address unemployment. We now have to use it to develop the National Development Plan,” Winde argued.
He commended Gordhan for his stance on corruption and the possible changes to legislation which would ban officials from doing business with the government.
“That’s exactly what we have in the Western Cape. Corruption is becoming a brand problem for South Africa, and it has to be addressed,” Winde said.
Former head of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce and Industry and labour attorney Michael Bagraim said : “We agree that the youth employment subsidy, which will give possible tax relief for small businesses, is an incredibly significant move.”
He said small businesses were taking a huge knock and factors such as the increase in petrol, electricity and wages were increasing the burden.
“We do need the government to come to understand that, without the tax relief for small business, they are not going to create jobs. The cornerstone of the government’s call is to create jobs, and it is common knowledge that only small business is creating those very jobs,” Bagraim said.
“At least business is going to see some tax relief. At least the government is starting to understand that small business needs to have the government behind it. The changes are not enormous, but a step in the right direction.”
But the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said the Budget failed to outline plans to reduce South Africa’s inflated public wages bill to sustainable levels.
“In our expectations for the Budget, we wanted attention to the rising public sector wage bill,” said chief executive Neren Rau.
“We need to curtail this growth.”
For small, medium and micro enterprises, Sacci welcomed efforts aimed at reducing red tape through the SA Revenue Service.
“But we will have to test in the course of this year whether this will make a meaningful difference,” Rau said.
The civil rights organisation Alternative Information and Development Centre said the Budget did not address the needs of South Africans.
“The crux of the problem with the Budget is… it is predicated on the idea that there should first be growth before there can be redistribution.
“This Budget fails. It doesn’t prioritise expenditure to the urgent needs of the vast majority of the people.” - Cape Argus
- Additional reporting by Sapa