The African National Congress (ANC) welcomes the redistributive and people-centered budget tabled by the Minister of Finance, Comrade Malusi Gigaba, today. The budget speaks to challenges confronting South Africa in a difficult global environment, but most importantly recognizes and embraces the opportunities offered by the sense of optimism and renewed investor confidence in South Africa.
Once again, the National Treasury has been able to balance the need for fiscal consolidation and strengthening our fiscal position on the one hand, taking into account the revenue shortfalls from last year, with our historic mission to redress the legacy of apartheid and turn the tide on exclusionary and segregationist policies benefiting a few, 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 ANC has also noted the increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate, for the first time since 1993. The exemption of basic necessitates, including zero rated food items - and other necessitates, shield the poorest of the poor from the potential regressive nature of the tax and introduce rather a more progressive and redistributive manner of raising revenue. 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.
Now is the time to harness and capitalize 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 stabilize 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.
The ANC remains committed to the mobilisation all social partners behind an economic recovery plan. Such plan must, of necessity ,include strengthening governance and restoring the credibility of our state owned enterprises (SOE). 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.
As we have resolved, government must be unrelenting in confronting all forms of corruption and state capture. The ANC policies on the fight against corruption and a wide range of other matters, central to economic growth and development, are clear and unambiguous.
Small, medium and micro enterprises remain a critical sector of our economy, supporting many of the poor and economically marginalised. Greater regulatory support is required to assist them thrive and the SOEs can and should play a more activist and interventionist role in the development of this sector. The decision to implement punitive measures, including preferring charges of financial misconduct, against those government officials who fail to pay suppliers within the timeframes stipulated by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) will go a long way towards the realization of radical socio-economic transformation and must be supported and commended.
Attaining the growth targets set out in the Budget requires all social partners working together, in concert, to realize our common goals. To this end, the ANC calls on the private sector to join hands with government and labour to realize our common objective of inclusive, job-creating economic growth. There must also be constructive engagement with organised labour on deepening the advances made to harmonize labour relations within a less antagonistic environment underpinned by a shared vision of common prosperity.
Issued by the African National Congress
Pule Mabe 0716234975
Khusela Diko 0728545707
National Communications Manager