Budget 24: low economic growth, high unemployment, and poverty can’t afford austerity

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers the 2024 Budget Speech. Picture: GCIS/GovernmentZA

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers the 2024 Budget Speech. Picture: GCIS/GovernmentZA

Published Feb 21, 2024


South Africa is at an important turning point, dealing with interconnected challenges such as poverty, unemployment and slowing economic growth.

Secretary-general of Good and member of Parliament Brett Herron said the issues demanded a concerted effort to encourage economic growth and job creation as one of the main methods of uplifting millions of South Africans out of poverty.

Herron emphasised the importance of achieving a 5 to 6% economic growth rate to effectively address severe poverty which affects about 18 million South Africans.

However, with anticipated growth rates of only 1% this year and 1.3% the following year, the current direction falls far short of tackling the critical concerns of unemployment and poverty.

“The minister’s Budget Speech must focus on our economic growth challenge.

“If he fails to confront the situation comprehensively, our country will be sentenced to continued low economic development as well as rising poverty and unemployment.”

Herron said that in order to stimulate the economy, the Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana must avoid implementing austerity measures such as budget cuts to infrastructure, essential initiatives, and services.

Instead, Herron argued for major infrastructure improvements, such as electricity supplies, transport networks, water systems and digital communications, in accordance with the 2022 National Infrastructure Plan.

He emphasised infrastructure spending’s multiplier effect on job creation and economic progress, as well as its critical role in fostering growth-friendly conditions.

Herron also advocated for complete support for entrepreneurs, describing access to funds as a key challenge to small business growth and self-employment.

“The minister must remove this barrier and make finance more available to small businesses.

“Fixing infrastructure and helping businesses will establish the conditions needed for the economy to succeed and pull South Africans out of financial difficulties, unemployment and poverty.

“The government must prioritise providing food and dignity to a large number of people who are unemployed and have no hope for a better future.

“I initiate urgent action to provide crucial assistance, proposing the conversion of the Social Relief of Distress into a Basic Income Grant to ensure the basic needs of the poorest individuals are fulfilled.”

Herron emphasised the constitutional duty of meeting people’s basic needs, especially during times of economic difficulty.

“It is evident that South Africa’s path forward depends on bold, determined efforts that promote economic growth and relieve the suffering of its people.”

The Star

Nobukhosi Tshabalala

[email protected]