JOHANNESBURG – The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) did not go far enough given the extent of the many crises facing the government, workers and the economy as a whole, and considering the fiscal, revenue, corruption and expenditure crises facing the nation.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni maintained on Wednesday that the expenditure ceiling would remain intact as funds will be reprioritised to manage spending pressures and support the economic recovery plan, allowing for real non-interest spending growth of 1.9 percent per year over the medium term.

Government was faced with pressing liabilities such as increasing gross national debt, above inflation public wage agreement, and continued bailouts of some troubled state-owned companies. 

Mboweni said there was little room for large fiscal adjustments following years of slow spending growth and tax increases, and the R49 billion revenue shortfalls had contributed to some slippage in fiscal projections.

In a statement, Cosatu said that the reality was that we the country is in an economic crisis and this current crisis can only be understood by looking at the root causes in a holistic way.

"The solution to our economic problems lies in bold measures of transformation, not in marginal programmes and projects. The statement was a reminder that we still lack a developmental vision, do not have a comprehensive development strategy and totally lack the necessary co-ordination of activities of various economic agents," it said.

"Cosatu is deeply worried about the way forward after this placid policy statement at a time when we expected a much bolder and decisive leadership from government. This represents another missed opportunity because what is contained in the statement is nothing new."

Cosatu said it was hoping to hear more from Mboweni about the government's recently announced stimulus package, but it did welcome the additional funding provided to the clothing and textile sectors and infrastructure funding commitments.

African News Agency (ANA)