Zululand Observer - Weekender

Minister vows to end the rot

- 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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