Cosatu members during a march. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Cosatu members during a march. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Buy vaccines, ditch wage freeze, lower tax burden! Cosatu makes demands ahead of Budget Speech

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Feb 22, 2021

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Johannesburg - Cosatu has set high expectations on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni ahead of his Budget Speech, calling for him to prioritise spending on vaccines and lowering the tax burden.

Mboweni is set to give his 2021 Budget Speech on Wednesday.

The country is under tough economic conditions as unemployment remains high, and economic growth low.

Cosatu said although the country's debt levels were high this was no excuse for the government to cut much-needed spending to push economic growth.

The trade union federation said Mboweni should see to it that the public sector wage freeze is abandoned.

Matthew Parks, Cosatu's Parliamentary coordinator, said Mboweni’s budget speech should also outline a plan to deal with the country's SOEs.

"The state of deterioration and collapse of many SOEs is destroying the lives of innocent workers," Parks said.

Cosatu said a further tax increase would overburden the working class and that the focus should instead be on those who hide their wealth through illicit means.

"The government needs to adopt a more progressive tax regime and stop overburdening working-class families. Recent years have seen the bulk of tax increases being imposed upon workers e.g., VAT, fuel levy, tax bracket non-adjustments etc.

"SARS needs to be capacitated to deal with tax loopholes exploited by the wealthy and customs evasion used to dump illicit goods that cost the state and economy billions annually," Parks said.

The federation also wants posts filled in the healthcare sector to help cushion the blow of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also in preparation for the National Health Insurance plan. Spending on vaccine procurement should also be top the agenda, Cosatu said.

On the economic recovery front, Cosatu has proposed the following:

* Clear measures to stem the flood of job losses are needed. This must include increasing allocations to key job creation programmes in the state, in particular the Industrial Financing programme of the DTIC.

* The irresponsible budget cuts to the CCMA and other key labour market institutions must be reversed.

* The budget needs to indicate what is being done to increase impact investments by the private sector and to address regulatory obstacles to investments and economic growth.

* Drastic steps to increase local procurement by all government departments, municipalities, and entities. Clear targets for local procurement by the state are critical.

* The roll-out of the infrastructure programme must be sped up.

* Investments in energy generation, maintenance and expansion are critical to ensuring the economy can operate.

Political Bureau

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