from the editor
how dare anyone in government even BREATHE the word ‘tax’ when they’re ‘irregularly spending’ R5m every hour of every day?” This reaction on Twitter by author Tom Eaton to finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s latest Budget Speech summed up how I imagine most South Africans feel after being hit by yet another round of tax increases. Eaton’s maths is based on the R46bn the auditor-general found national and provincial departments “irregularly” spent last year – which was a whopping 79% increase on the year before.
The country’s 103 353 high-income earners who earn more than R1.5m a year have seen the biggest increase in their tax burden, and will contribute a massive R126.9bn to the fiscus in the 2016/17 financial year. (See page 34.)
We already carry the 14th-highest individual tax burden in the world, while our company tax income-to-GDP, at 4.7% in 2015, is higher than in all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Gordhan tried his best to put some positive spin on the ever-increasing tax burden, highlighting the huge challenges we face in terms of addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality in SA. I believe most South Africans share Gordhan’s concerns, and would gladly contribute their fair share of taxes to help achieve this nation’s ideals as set out in the Freedom Charter.
Yet, in the same week as the Budget Speech we had to read how Mosebenzi Zwane, minister of mineral resources, and his deputy Godfrey Oliphant, bought themselves a new Mercedes-Benz and Porsche Cayenne respectively, both costing north of R1m. We are eagerly awaiting their punishment, given that Treasury has imposed a R750 000 limit on new ministerial vehicles.
Given how much we spend on education, it is unthinkable that over half of all children in grade 5 cannot read adequately in any language, as you pointed out in your speech, minister Gordhan. Healthcare is another major expenditure – but more than 100 mental health patients died on your government’s watch due to cost-cutting and incompetence.
I’m afraid, minister, that we’re fed up of being bled dry without seeing the results. You said it yourself: “There is enough money in the system to do all the things we want to do, if spent properly.”
We, the people of South Africa – the taxpayers, the grant recipients, the students, the unemployed, the sick, the poor, the wealthy – we’ve all had enough of your government’s wastage and your empty promises. Waste our money with impunity while you still can. We will see you at the ballot box in 2019.