The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) delivered by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has left the Democratic Alliance feeling disappointed, commenting that the budget indicated South Africa’s government had no sustainable plan to accelerate economic growth, resolve relentless blackouts, stabilise debt, reign in runaway expenditure, support vulnerable South Africans, and combat corruption.
The DA’s Shadow Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament, Dr Dion George, said the MTBPS was clearly a budget for the African National Congress (ANC) “who simply does not care”.
He said the government’s plan to accelerate private-public partnerships to rebuild South Africa’s crumbling infrastructure and the extension of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant were where the good news ended.
“He [Godongwana] could have cut taxes and levies on fuel. He could have expanded the zero-VAT-rated basket of food. He never once mentioned the cost of living. There is just no sense of urgency,” he said.
In a statement issued by the party shortly after the Parliamentary sitting was adjourned, the DA said this MTBPS was confirmation that government simply did not care about the plight of battling South African households who were unable to put enough food on their tables.
“This MTBPS speech does not offer bold action and fails to address the urgent economic crisis facing South Africa. The DA’s alternative set out what is possible if the minister was in fact bold, but he certainly was not, and missed an opportunity to set us on the path to a sustainable economic recovery,” George said.
He added that although government claimed to be making significant progress on resolving relentless blackouts, the lights remained off, and government commitment to unbundling Eskom was not moving fast enough while the entity continued to generate enormous losses.
“Tepid economic growth is projected to continue with the result that revenue projections remain overstated, and government was therefore forced to cut expenditure on service delivery and social spending in the absence of any bold initiatives. This means that department budgets will need to be cut further if government wants to avoid running out of money,” George said.
The DA further noted with concern that National Treasury was working with the Department of Public Enterprises and Transnet to either offload the entity’s debt on the sovereign balance sheet or bail it out.
George said a better solution would be to accelerate Transnet’s privatisation.