Min­is­ter vows to end the rot

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Tam­lyn Jolly

AGAINST the back­drop of a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion in South Africa and the down­grad­ing of the coun­try’s growth fore­cast, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tito Mboweni yes­ter­day (Wednes­day) de­liv­ered the midterm bud­get pol­icy.

Vow­ing to re­pair dam­aged gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties, put an end to cor­rup­tion and spend the tax­pay­ers’ money wisely, Mboweni said the coun­try’s per­for­mance should be mea­sured by whether cit­i­zens are gain­fully em­ployed, whether chil­dren have ac­cess to de­cent schools and whether health­care in­sti­tu­tions are up to stan­dard.

‘The medium term bud­get pol­icy state­ment is a cen­tral part of our plan­ning as a coun­try,’ he said.

‘It is de­signed to out­line how we spend scarce re­sources for the ben­e­fit of all South Africans.’

He said var­i­ous key gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the rev­enue ser­vice, would be

‘ur­gently fixed’.

Econ­omy-stim­u­lat­ing mea­sures will be put in place, in­clud­ing the re-pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of pub­lic spend­ing to sup­port growth and job cre­ation, en­hanc­ing in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment, and ad­dress­ing ur­gent mat­ters in ed­u­ca­tion and health.

For 2018, South Africa’s growth fore­cast has been re­vised down from 1.5% to a mere 0.7%.

The wage bill re­mains the big­gest cost pres­sure on the bud­get, with the 2018 pub­lic ser­vice wage agree­ment ex­ceed­ing bud­geted base­lines by R30.2-bil­lion.

No ad­di­tional money has been al­lo­cated for this, and na­tional and pro­vin­cial depart­ments would be ex­pected to ab­sorb the costs within their com­pen­sa­tion base­lines.

Rev­enue col­lec­tions up to the end of

Septem­ber have grown by 10.7% com­pared with last year; how­ever, es­ti­mates sug­gest the full year tax col­lec­tions will amount to R27.4bil­lion less than ex­pected.

In an­swer to pub­lic pleas, as of

1 April san­i­tary pads, bread flour and cake flour will be zero-VAT rated. The as­so­ci­ated rev­enue loss is es­ti­mated at R1.2-bil­lion.

Mboweni has vowed to strengthen the in­ter­nal au­dit­ing ca­pac­ity of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and re­form state-owned South African Air­ways and SA Ex­press.

The gov­ern­ment will pro­vide ad­di­tional fund­ing for both, to sup­port a sus­tain­able re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of the air­line port­fo­lio. Mboweni ad­mit­ted that times are tough for or­di­nary South Africans in the wake of elec­tric­ity and fuel in­creases. He said un­em­ploy­ment is un­ac­cept­ably high, and poor ser­vices and cor­rup­tion have hit the poor the hard­est.

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