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Cape Town - Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s Budget speech was not bold enough to tackle key economic challenges facing the country.
Political parties said Godongwana could have used his budget to attend to the urgent challenges of a faltering economy, the jobs crisis and power outages.
Cosatu said it was an uninspiring budget because the government has not stuck to the commitments it made to get the country out of the quagmire by fighting poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Godongwana has added to the already strained fiscus the Eskom debt of R254 billion and this puts more pressure on the fiscus.
The economy has not grown significantly over the last few years and failed to create jobs, it said.
DA spokesperson on finance, Dion George said Godongwana was not bold enough to deal with the pressing challenges facing the state.
There were no structural reforms mentioned in the budget, he said, adding that this would have ramped up economic growth.
“To help the most vulnerable South Africans, the Minister could have easily dropped fuel levies and increased the zero-VAT rated food basket, without any impact, given the tax overrun. He also announced no measures to cut back on unnecessary, wasteful government spending. This reveals an uncaring government that is out of touch with the daily hardship of South African households,” said George.
EFF leader Julius Malema said this was a lacklustre budget that failed to address the electricity crisis in the country.
“As the EFF, we totally reject this budget. We think it's not aimed at resolving the challenges that we are confronted with and there is no clear strategy on how they are going to finance the electricity crisis that we are confronted with,” said Malema.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said they will have to interrogate the budget further when departments table their budgets in parliament soon.
He said they were happy that Godongwana touched on corruption because it was a serious problem in the country.
“There is a lot of work done to push back on the frontiers of corruption. That was expressed in the Minister’s budget when he was making funds available to law enforcement agencies. The SIU benefits R100 million for the purposes of working with the Special Tribunal,” said Hlengwa.
NFP MP Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam said they feel Godongwana should have done more to fix some of the challenges facing the country.
He said the additional R100 million given to the SIU was not enough to fight high levels of corruption amounting to billions of rands every year.
The water crisis was another problem, but more resources should have been allocated for this purpose.
He said the country was losing 54% of its water due to water leaks and this excludes other water infrastructure challenges.
Video: African News Agency (ANA)
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said unemployment remained stubbornly high, with many of those unemployed being the youth.
“The budget does not provide a decisive set of bold interventions that will jolt the economy from a projected growth of 0.9% in 2023, 1.5% in 2024 and 1.8%. It is self-delusional to believe that a timid budget will spur the economy to grow and slash unemployment,” said Pamla.
He also slammed the projected increase of the public sector wage bill by 3.3% over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, while cabinet ministers and parliamentarians will get an increase of 4.5% during the MTEF.
He said they want government to negotiate in good faith with the unions at the bargaining chamber.
Godongwana said he was waiting on what issues will be tabled in the negotiations.
While Cosatu welcomed the decision by government to take R254bn of Eskom’s debt, it said this must not result in the sale of the power utility’s assets.