Finance Minister Tito Mboweni holds an aloe plant as a metaphor for an economy in need of special care. File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni holds an aloe plant as a metaphor for an economy in need of special care. File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

LIVE FEED: Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers his 2021 Budget Speech

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Feb 24, 2021

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Johannesburg – Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is due to give the budget speech on Wednesday following a tough economic year for the country which was largely compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mboweni will give his speech facing pressure to make do with a tight budget to fund important sectors such as education, health and infrastructure funding.

The country began its vaccination programme last week and there will be expectations of procuring millions of vaccination doses to inoculate as many people as possible.

The DA insists the speech needs to focus on spending on vaccinations, protecting spending on social services and not increasing taxes.

WATCH THE LIVE FEED HERE:

DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis gave the party's alternative budget speech. The party has pushed the importance of bringing the cost of the country's debt under control to avoid a "debt crisis".

Hill-Lewis said if the country's cost of debt and the debt itself was not brought down the ripple effects for spending on social services would be massive and dire.

"The consequences of this will be profoundly negative: wider impoverishment and deep cuts to social spending. No one should want this to happen to South Africa.

"And yet despite their own ever more dire warnings, the government continues to plunge deeper into debt," he said.

The party has proposed a list of issues that it believes Mboweni's speech should focus on.

The first being spending on vaccinations, the party said Mboweni should not even consider proposing anything less than R35 billion. Hill-Lewis said spending on social grants should be increased by at least R30bn.

On expectations that Mboweni might be tempted to increase taxes, the DA says this would be a hard and undeserved hit on working families still recovering from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We expect that the minister may introduce new taxes of between R5bn and R10bn. This would be a mistake. We cannot tax South Africa’s economy back to growth.

"South African families and businesses have gone through a terrible year, and face enormous stress and strain. They cannot afford any more taxes," Hill-Lewis said.

The DA has also rejected the possibility of further bailouts for state-owned entities such as Eskom and SAA or the Land Bank. Hill-Lewis said these bailouts often come at the cost of cutting service delivery services.

The DA has proposed cuts to the public wage bill and reductions in job posts in certain government departments, to help yield savings on the fiscus in the long run.

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