Cosatu welcomes many of Budget 2024 measures

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers the Budget speech last week. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers the Budget speech last week. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 26, 2024


By Solly Phetoe

Cosatu notes the government’s 2024/25 Budget tabled at Parliament.

The challenges confronting society are immense and require a delicate balancing act. What is needed is to stimulate the economy, reduce unemployment, provide relief to the poor, rebuild the state, and tackle crime and corruption.

We support the government’s agreement with the South African Reserve Bank to release R150 billion to ease the fiscal pressures. It is critical these be used to rebuild Eskom and Transnet. This is a once-off relief and needs to be utilised to grow the economy and reduce unemployment.

Key to growing the economy is tackling the network obstacles. We welcome progress in providing Eskom R253bn worth of debt relief and the significant strides in reducing the levels of load shedding and the progress in easing municipal debt. To turn the corner on load shedding, the government needs to fast-track the roll-out of the 14 000km in new transmission lines, which will unlock renewable energy.

While there has been progress in easing port congestion, Transnet needs further support to transport goods to their markets timeously. This is critical for the mining, manufacturing and agricultural sectors, key sources of jobs and company taxes. The R47bn loan guarantee will help.

New plans are needed to reposition Metrorail, the Post Office and Postbank, Denel and the SABC. Retrenching 6 000 postal workers is not a plan. The revival of SAA is positive news.

The state of local government, with 36 municipalities routinely failing to pay their employees, is deeply worrying. The increase in municipal grants as well as intervention and capacity building programmes for 140 municipalities are welcome and will hopefully see real improvements.

The recapacitation of state-owned enterprises and municipalities is critical to ensure the successful rolling out of the massive R943bn infrastructure programme.

The tax incentives for the local manufacturing of electric vehicles and an additional R1bn in industrial financing will be a positive injection for motor manufacturing jobs.

Cosatu welcomes the extension of the SRD grant and the Presidential Employment Stimulus providing relief to eight million unemployed persons and that helped 1.7 million earn a salary and gain the skills and experiences needed to find permanent jobs.

We are heartened by progress Cosatu has made with the government and Parliament to ensure the two-pot pension reforms come into effect on September 1, 2024. This will provide badly needed relief for millions of indebted workers. It is critical Parliament conclude passing the two bills, enabling these bills so the remaining processes can be concluded by the president, SA Revenue Service (Sars) and pension funds.

Society depends upon well-functioning public services. More investments in front-line services are needed to ensure they can fulfil their mandates. Above-inflation increases for schools, the police, courts, housing, roads and water infrastructure are welcomed.

The increase in the police headcount is a positive boost to the fight against crime. Similar increases are needed for the National Prosecuting Authority and the courts.

The state requires skilled professionals to deliver the quality public services society requires.

However, the government has done well rebuilding Sars. The additional R1bn allocated to it provides a positive boost to increasing tax compliance, thus bringing the revenue the state requires.

The R4bn fuel levy relief will also help cushion commuters from fuel price hikes.

Cosatu general secretary Solly Phetoe.