Budget gets mixed reactions

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's Budget won praise yesterday for its increased spending on health, education and the fight against poverty.

But the R1,6 billion bailout of South African Airways and the increased fuel levy, which will see the petrol price rising by 40,5 cents per litre, were criticised.

ANC president Jacob Zuma, pictured below, called it a "very cautious" Budget, but said the emphasis on education, rural development and crime, was "very fair".

Independent Democrats chief whip Lance Greyling said his party welcomed "the increase in expenditure on education and health" but said he was unhappy that Manuel had allocated R3,5billion to the pebble bed modular reactor, which still cannot produce nuclear power.

Democratic Alliance finance spokesman Kobus Marais praised Manuel for "sticking to responsible fiscal policies" but said he should have done more to "empower the private sector".

The United Democratic Movement, Inkatha Freedom Party, ID, and DA all criticised the bailout of the airline, with UDM finance spokesman Jackson Bici saying "it is becoming a habit of SAA to come to Parliament every now and then for a top-up".

Bici added that "although the spending on education and health is good, we must make sure it is used to pay teachers, and provide proper health care".

Azapo deputy president Pandelani Nefolovhodwe said "the Budget Speech was encouraging in the sense that Manuel continued to spend on the poor".

But Dr Motsoko Pheko of the PAC said "the rural development allocation is not specific. Small farmers in the rural areas are poor and they no longer have traditional oxen".

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi welcomed the increased spending on infrastructure but said "we would have liked to see Manuel extending the child support grant to the age of 18".