Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni is scheduled to deliver the 2019 Budget Speech which will give details of spending and revenue collection plans to carry out the programmes presented in President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (Sona). File Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

CAPE TOWN- South Africa Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has a lot of pressure ahead of his budget speech on Wednesday but has been urged to focus to the agriculture sector in order to unlock economic growth.

“Minister Mboweni has a lot of pressure on him to make sure that South Africa’s books balance, If he wants to unlock economic growth, the agriculture sector is the key,” said Requier Wait, Agri SA head of economics and trade.

Mboweni is scheduled to give details of spending and revenue collection plans to carry out the programmes presented in President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (Sona) earlier this month.

In a statement, Agri SA said it was looking forward to Mboweni’s budget speech and that the balance between government income (tax revenue) and expenditure is at the heart of the government budget. Rating agencies and financial market role-players will want to see a commitment to fiscal consolidation Agri SA said. The fiscus is under severe strain and a further downgrade from credit rating agencies must be avoided at all cost thew organisation added.

“Although fiscal consolidation is of the utmost importance, the first option should not be tax increases,” said Nicol Jansen, Agri SA chairman of the centre of excellence.

“This is an opportunity to return to best practice, using the right instruments to cut unnecessary expenses without fear or favour.”

Agri SA said that agriculture has shown that it was a proven sector that, with assistance from the government, can build the economy and increase fiscal stability. The National Development Plan (NDP) overwhelmingly recognises the agricultural sector as a sector of growth and its potential to create job opportunities for rural communities. The Minister must take into account the current economic conditions and the possible negative impact of these increases on growth prospects."

In Mboweni’s speech, Agri SA said it was hoping to hear among other elements, effective and speedy direct assistance to drought-affected farmers, electricity sector reforms which are necessary to resolve the current situation of rising tariffs amidst system supply constraints and loadshedding and land reform and emerging farmer support.

- African News Agency (ANA)