Don’t mess around in the dark, political parties tell Godongwana

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi, Nicola Daniels Time of article published Nov 11, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Some political parties have called on Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to deal with the energy crisis at Eskom in his medium term budget policy statement (MTBPS)on Thursday as the country battles the latest round of load shedding.

They want Godongwana to keep a tight ship with the government's purse getting smaller and prioritise social spending.

Godongwana is expected to table his maiden MTBPS having been appointed to the position in August when his predecessor Tito Mboweni quit.

The DA, Cope and ACDP on Wednesday said they did not want more of the same as the country was facing a minefield of problems.

Cope national spokesperson Dennis Bloem said they want solutions to Eskom’s energy crisis.

“The first thing we look forward to hearing from the minister is the issue of how they are going to fix the crisis at Eskom. Eskom is crippling the economy of this country. Even if the minister can come with grand plans, as long as there is load shedding they will not achieve those plans,” said Bloem.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said they were expecting Godongwana to deal with tax revenue, more money on law enforcement agencies, corruption and the economic recovery plan of President Cyril Ramaphosa to get the economy back on track.

“We are expecting the tax revenue will be higher than the budget forecast by R170 billion due to the commodity boom. This tax windfall should be used to stabilise debt levels which will satisfy creditors and investors,” he said.

Swart said he hoped the debt will be stabilised from 80% of GDP to 70%.

DA MP Dion George also said: “While the recent cyclical commodities boom has provided temporary reprieve to the fiscus in the form of improved revenue, it is imperative that Minister Godongwana sets the country on a path of continued fiscal consolidation, sustainable public debt management and accelerated structural economic reform.”

The parties also said Godongwana would have to clarify issues of the proposed family grant instead of the basic income grant.

It has been reported the minister would table the family grant to cushion families instead of giving money to individuals. Some political parties, unions and civil society have been calling for the introduction of the basic income grant.

They wanted the government to expand the current R350 social relief of distress to R600 and others proposing R1 500. But Godongwana would clarify on the social relief measures for the poor.

Economist Dawie Roodt said key figures he would be looking out for were tax collection, the minister’s expectation on economic growth and announcements on spending in relation to state-owned entities.

“Tax collections are doing much better than we previously thought, I would like to know how much better. It is largely due to commodity prices like gold going up, the mines making a bucket full and paying truck loads of taxes on that.

“On the spending side, I do not think there will be any significant announcement, maybe one or two, like the Land Bank, there could be an announcement around that. He may hint on the grants – that they may be extended, or that they might be the introduction of a new kind of grant.”

Cape Times

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