SA's Covid-19 response budget lacks credibility, says DA
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Johannesburg - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's supplementary budget tabled on Wednesday in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy lacks the necessary detail to make it credible, the Democratic Alliance said.
In a virtual address to Parliament, Mboweni signalled he was moving South Africa to zero-based budgeting to contain debt that was spiralling to 81.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 65.6 percent, as the country sought to plug a budget deficit expected to more than double to 15.7 percent of GDP in the current financial year.
He said South Africa's economy was now expected to contract by 7.2 percent in 2020, its largest shrinkage in nearly 90 years, dragged down by the ravages of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Wednesday.
DA member of parliament and shadow finance minister Geordin Hill-Lewis said Mboweni had painted an accurate picture of the horror story of the country's public finances, but offered no concrete response plan.
"The speech sounded like more of a plea to his own party to support the stalled economic reform agenda, rather than a detailed plan for how to avoid a full-blown sovereign debt crisis," Hill-Lewis said.
"Without this detail, the speech lacked credibility."
The DA legislator warned that if the African National Congress (ANC) government did not implement far ranging economic reform now, the economic would be far worse than previously thought.
"All available evidence suggests the "passive path" is the more likely path the ANC will follow," he said.
"If the minister wanted to convince otherwise, he needed to lay out much more detail on how fiscal discipline will be achieved, debt brought under control, and economic growth spurred."
He said of major concern for the DA was the lack of any detail on a proposed R100 billion (US$5.7 billion) economic support package for job creation which increasingly looked like nothing more than a re-brand of the government's public employment programme.
"This emergency budget speech was not the “resilience budget” that we had hoped for," said Hill-Lewis.
African News Agency/ANA
DA member of parliament and shadow finance minister Geordin Hill-Lewis. Video: African News Agency (ANA)