Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba before delivering his Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement in the National Assembly. 
Photo: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS
JOHANNESBURG - Labour federation Cosatu has expressed its disappointment with Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), saying the mini-budget revealed a “leadership crisis and dearth of ideas in government”.

“It is now patently clear that the nation is in the midst of its worst governance and economic crisis since 1994. The MTBPS said nothing, proposed nothing and offered no hope to millions who are poor and unemployed,” lamented Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.

Cosatu had hoped against all hope that the ANC-run government would listen to workers, civil society and the public and act decisively to rally social partners behind a common programme.

“We had hoped that government would rise to the occasion by acknowledging its failings and producing a meaningful plan to arrest the collapse of the economy, the looting of the state and spur economic growth with the aim of creating decent permanent jobs for all.

“This prolonged stagnation in the South African economy was calling for a solid policy response on the part of the government, but (the) MTBPS revealed a crisis of leadership and a dearth of ideas,” said Pamla.

He said auditor-general Kimi Makwetu, senior cabinet ministers and countless media articles painted a picture where at least R100billion of taxpayers’ money was lost to corruption and wasteful and irregular expenditure. “No minister, parastatal chief executive, private sector chief executive, director-general has so far been sent to prison despite this avalanche of looting. After listening to the minister, it is obvious it’s business as usual and nothing is going to change in the next coming months because the government does not have a plan,” added Pamla

‘Gravely concerned’

Another labour federation, Fedusa, said it was “gravely concerned” that the consolidated budget deficit would widen to 4.3percent of the GDP in 2017/18.

It said the country was faced with the “biggest tax collection shortfall since 2009”, of R50.8bn, and a “slew of negative numbers from unemployment at its highest in 14 years, increasing levels of poverty affecting millions of South Africans and economic growth that had to be cut down to 0.7percent for 2017”.

‘Full horror’

DA spokesperson on finance David Maynier said the MTBPS exposed the “full horror of President Jacob Zuma’s catastrophic management of the economy”.

The budget deficit “blow-out” results in an increase in national debt of R67.9bn to R2.3trillion, or 54.2percent of GDP and an increase in debt service costs of R900m to R163.3bn in 2017/18.