27 February 2018

South Africa: The New Dawn's First National Budget Is the Same Old Disaster

opinion

The first substantive action of the "new dawn" has arrived, and it could not be worse.

Almost R3-billion a year taken out of schools. When children cannot read. R10-billion taken out of homes. When the housing backlog is vast. R12-billion taken out of roads and rail and water, and R5-billion taken out of municipal infrastructure. When growth depends on infrastructure, especially in the rural areas hit hardest by the cuts, and when service delivery is perpetually behind. R3-billion out of building jails and courts. When those are overcrowded and crime is rampant.

The list goes on. R5-billion over three years removed from SARS' IT investments. When efficient tax collection relies on IT, and eFiling is still built on a technology (Flash) that Apple and Google have called too insecure to use for cat videos. R&D infrastructure, slashed. Broadband, slashed. Even the small amounts are egregious. R100-million cut from libraries and museums. At the dawn of an era supposedly attacking corruption, the NPA's budget is cut by R200-million a year, the equivalent of hundreds of lawyers and investigators.

But, it will be said, with money needed for universities, what else could be done? A great deal.

Start with inheritance taxes. The...

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