A ‘tough but hopeful’ budget‚ says ANC

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivers the 2018 Budget speech.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivers the 2018 Budget speech.

The ANC on Wednesday welcomed the "tough but hopeful budget"‚ but again blamed a "difficult global environment" for the country's economic woes.

The party in a statement said the Treasury has balanced the need for fiscal consolidation and strengthening the country's fiscal position on the one hand and the party's historic mission of addressing the legacy of apartheid on the other.

"In this regard‚ the ANC particularly welcomes the allocation of almost R60-billion over the next three years to fund fee-free higher education and training for children from poor and working class backgrounds‚" the governing party said.

It also noted the increase in VAT for the first time since 1993‚ but added that the exemption on basic necessities would shield the poorest of the poor from the increase.

"We further welcome the above-inflation increases in social grants‚ which once again affirms our commitment to a comprehensive social security net for the most vulnerable in our society."

While tough global conditions had impacted negatively on SA's economy‚ political decisions by the ANC's former president‚ Jacob Zuma‚ had also contributed to the malaise‚ with four finance ministers appointed to lead the Treasury in a period of two years. This was exacerbated by allegations of corruption and state capture.

The ANC said it was committed to the economic recovery plan outlined and would mobilise social partners behind it - saying the plan "must‚ of necessity" include strengthening governance and restoring the credibility of state-owned enterprises.

It said the government should be "unrelenting" in confronting state capture and corruption.

"Lifestyle audits in the public service and in state owned enterprises must be standard practice for public representatives and public servants alike. Our SOEs must become engines of development - well-governed‚ self-sustaining and developmental in their outlook‚" the party said.

"Now is the time to harness and capitalise on the improvements in business confidence and investor sentiment in South Africa‚ for the benefit of all our people. The African National Congress unequivocally supports efforts by the ANC led government to consolidate the deficit and stabilise debt in the medium term. The austerity measures implemented within government must be directed to further fiscal consolidation‚ freeing up much needed resources to enable the ANC led government to realize its obligations in terms of our social compact. "

It further said greater support for small and medium enterprises was required‚ with SOEs playing a more "activist and interventionist" role in the development of the sector. The ANC called on the private sector to partner with government and labour to realise the country's goal of creating "inclusive‚ job-creating economic growth".

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba announced on Wednesday that higher education would receive R57-billion from treasury. Opposition parties gave varying reactions to the minister’s education funding p...