Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s budget has been welcomed by Ministers, who say it was a balanced budget that proposed savings measures, boosted revenue collection while safeguarding the interests of the poor.
Minister Nene tabled the budget at the National Assembly on Wednesday where he announced increases in personal income tax and the fuel levy, while sparing those that earn below R181 900.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Obed Bapela said the budget was balanced given the current domestic and global economic conditions.
“The Minister had to give a balanced budget but he could still give hope to the country [by limiting] our expenditure on non-core issues, especially on travelling and on consultants.
“Those are the items that we need to cut on so that we can save for the main capital infrastructure that will later attract investment back into the country,” he said.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said Minister Nene’s budget was pro-poor.
“I believe [social grants] are a safety net for the poor but I am also happy that the Minister said we are going to have further discussions.”
Minister Nene announced an additional R7.1 billion allocation to the Social Development vote to accommodate an increase in the number of beneficiaries and to protect the poorest households against poverty.
“The bigger part of social security is comprehensive social security. Once we release [a discussion paper on social security reform], everything that has to do with the protection of South African citizens will come to the fore and that means we are moving forward,” Minister Dlamini said.
The Minister said other proposals including eliminating transfer costs on properties worth less than R750 000 and exempting those that earn less than R181 900 from tax increases further safeguarded the poor.
“That shows commitment to the poor and we are a government that is pro-poor that tries to ensure that the lives of people are improved,” she said.
Boosting small business
Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu welcomed Minister Nene’s speech.
The speech proposed measures to support small businesses and an allocation to establish her department.
“I was expecting this because from the time that the department was established, we have been vigorously working with our Cabinet colleagues putting on the agenda the issue of small businesses.
“The President said in no uncertain terms that small business is big business.
“…Now it means we are a fully-fledged department with our own budget and we are no longer going to be under the Department of Trade and Industry,” said Minister Zulu.
Source: South African Government News Agency