Cape Town - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's Budget contained few surprises, opposition parties said on Wednesday.
DA MP Tim Harris described Gordhan's speech as very conservative.
“There were no big new incentives on the tax side or any other side to get the economy going. On the other side, the cost containment measures are welcome if we can hit the targets he sets,” Harris said.
Harris said Gordhan was not clear on what would happen if ministers did not manage to cut costs as expected in their relevant departments.
The fact that the debt peak would increase to 44 percent by 2016 did not bode well for the country, he said.
“At best he's just holding the fiscal line here and if we don't get growth going, we're not going to start drawing down that debt and get to a more fiscally sustainable situation,” said Harris.
“It's not brave enough on jobs, not brave enough on growth and frankly we needed more.”
The Congress of the People was impressed with Gordhan's speech.
“I think it was a good speech. I think Pravin Gordhan has just shown why we need him for a next term and I hope he will be the new finance minister after the elections,” said Cope MP Nick Koornhof.
The fact that there were no big surprises and that Gordhan “toed the line” would build confidence.
“He was starting bit by bit to implement the National Development Plan and he's keeping the credit rating agencies from our door with his good news budget,” Koornhof said.
While Cope welcomed the fact that there were no major tax increases, the rise in the fuel levy was problematic.
“It's not a good time for consumers to have that on top of a weak rand, so maybe that was not good news,” he said.
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said while he understood South Africa was sensitive to global economic pressures, other emerging economies such as Turkey and India showed that growth was possible in the current climate.
“On poverty and inequality, the minister is honest about it. He doesn't sweep them under the carpet but I don't think his speech goes anywhere near addressing these problems,” Buthelezi said.