Budget Speech: R2.3 billion set aside for elections

Nearly R3 billion set aside for South Africans to vote. Picture COURTNEY AFRICA

Nearly R3 billion set aside for South Africans to vote. Picture COURTNEY AFRICA

Published Feb 22, 2024


Cape Town - The National Treasury has set aside nearly R3 billion for South Africans to vote in the general elections on May 29.

Tabling his Budget 2024 in the Cape Town City Hall yesterday, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was allocated an additional R2.3 billion, while police and defence were allocated R350 million to support the elections.

A further R200 million would be allocated for political party funding.

Godongwana said that this was to ensure the effective discharge of duties during elections, and other responsibilities beyond the polls.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said political parties would not get an equal share of the money, adding that it was allocated only to serve the interests of the ANC towards and on election day.

“One must remember that money for party funding is allocated to political parties according to their numbers, in what we call propositional representation, so parties must not be excited as a large amount will go to the ANC,” said Seepe.

“Cyril Ramaphosa is running out of options, as many businesses that believed in him before have lost their confidence in him on many issues, such as the energy crisis up to Transnet.

“It is also important to note that Jewish lobby groups and businesses have been supporting the ANC for some time; however, the recent events of taking Israel to the International Criminal Court over the Palestine matter have made them angry,” said Seepe.

He said many funders “changed their minds” and were looking to fund other parties as Ramaphosa didn’t keep his promises.

“This allocation comes as no surprise, as it will go towards financing the ANC’s election campaign.

“The man has been a failure, and he will do anything to hold on to power,” said Seepe.

Godongwana said the weak performance of the economy resulted in a sharp deterioration in tax revenue collection for 2023/24.

At R1.73 trillion, tax revenue for 2023/24 was R56.1 billion lower than estimated in the 2023 Budget.

“The shortfall is largely due to the decline in corporate profits and revenue from taxes on mining.

“Over the medium term, revenue projections are R45.6 billion higher than the 2023 MTBPS (medium-term budget policy statement) estimates which increased personal income tax and additional medium-term revenue proposals.

“This budget contains tax measures that will raise R15 billion in 2024/25 to alleviate immediate fiscal pressure and support faster debt stabilisation,” said Godongwana.

Touching on education, Godongwana allocated R25.7 billion towards an increase in wages for teachers.

“At the same time, we were able to protect the budgets of critical programmes such as the school nutrition programme.

“The programme provides food to students in almost 20000 schools.

“The early childhood development grant is allocated R1.6 billion, rising to R2 billion over the medium term,” said Godongwana.

Education advocacy group Equal Education (EE) said that with the Cabinet-approved reductions of R2.8 billion over the medium term from various programmes, including the school infrastructure budget, the sector would once again have to tighten its purse strings.

“EE and the Equal Education Law Centre are concerned that National Treasury’s continued austerity budgeting and aggressive cuts to social spending are a significant blow to the millions of poor and low-income households reliant on government services to realise their socio-economic rights, including the right to basic education. This education budget does not comply with the government’s human rights obligations,” said EE.

Smokers and drinkers meanwhile will once again have to dig deeper into their pockets as the Finance Minister increased the sin tax, which would see alcohol products increase above-inflation between 6.7 and 7.2%, while tobacco excise duties would increase by 4.7% for cigarettes and cigarette tobacco, and 8.2% for pipe tobacco and cigars.

Godongwana said health was allocated a total of R848 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

“These allocations include R11.6 billion to address the 2023 wage agreement, R27.3 billion for infrastructure, and R1.4 billion for the NHI grant over the same period.

“The allocation for the NHI is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to this policy.

“There remain a range of system-strengthening activities that are key enablers of an improved public health care system that must be undertaken,” said Godongwana.

Below were some of the key highlights of Godongwana’s budget:

– Consolidated government spending would amount to R2.37 trillion in 2024/25, R2.47 trillion in 2025/26, and R2.6 trillion in 2026/27.

– As part of the overall changes, R251.3 billion was added to the MTEF to ensure that the salaries of teachers, doctors, nurses, police and other public servants were funded and to maintain strong levels of social protection through 2026/27.

– Learning and culture received 24.4% (R1.51 trillion) of the total function budgets, while general public services received the smallest share at 3.7% (R231.5 billion).

– An amount of R7.4 billion was set aside in 2024/25 for the presidential employment initiative.

The social wage will constitute an average of 60.2% of total non-interest spending over the next three years.

Cape Argus