from the edi­tor

Finweek English Edition - - CONTENTS - JANA MARAIS

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.

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