Mboweni's budget speech receives mixed reaction from political parties
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's supplementary budget speech has received a mixed reaction from political parties, with concerns about the lack of focus on struggling state-owned enterprises.
Mboweni delivered his supplementary budget speech on Wednesday in a virtual briefing to Parliament. The Covid-19 pandemic had upended the speech he gave in February, with spending being shifted to address the economic impact caused by the pandemic.
Mboweni has allocated R21.5 billion for healthcare spending meant to assist in fighting the spread of the virus. An additional R12.6 billion has been allocated for the frontline response.
The EFF said it was disappointing that the speech did not focus on providing additional funding for social grants.
Mboweni spoke about R41 billion for a social relief package had been allocated for social spending, which will be allocated to the Department of Social Development.
The spending includes payments for the unemployment relief grant of R350, which has been paid to over 1 million people so far. Social grants have also been increased for recipients until the end of October.
These measures were not enough, according to the EFF. The party said the increase in social grants should be made permanent.
"All Ramaphosa and Mboweni are concerned about are to safeguard and bailout big business, in particular banks that have no regard for workers and poor people.
"As part of the supplementary budget, we expected additional allocation to the budget to ensure that social grants announced as temporary measures are made permanent, in particular the basic income grant… It should be increased to R500," the EFF said in a statement.
The EFF also bemoaned the lack of focus on state-owned enterprises and funds needed to address their financial positions. The sentiment was shared by the IFP.
"The minister of finance has not made any major pronouncements on the state of state-owned entities and has left far too much room for speculation in a time whereby certainty is required to boost investor confidence," the IFP said.
The party said it welcomed the R20 billion allocated to local governments, but questioned whether the money would be spent wisely.
"While the increase for local government expenditure is welcomed and relief to struggling municipalities, the state of health of financial management at our local government entities and councils are worrisome and leaves a lot to be desired.
"Cogta (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs) must put in place resources and human infrastructure to manage finances accordingly and to cut corruption," the IFP said.
The DA's Geordin Hill-Lewis said Mboweni's speech lacked answers on the economic plan and where spending will be cut to reduce debt levels.