Parties welcome Gordhan’s Budget

23 February 2012

Political parties and others have broadly welcomed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2012/13 Budget, tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

It exceeds R1-trillion – for the first time ever – with the bulk of spending, R615.7-billion, earmarked for social services. Revenue is expected to be about R904.8-billion.

Democratic Alliance spokesman Tim Harris said the money allocated for infrastructure and growth was “not good enough”. “I don’t think we got it today, but let’s give the minister credit because he managed to bring the budget deficit down.

“The fact that he managed to do that shows us that we have more space to be bold on growth and on infrastructure particularly. We want to see far more on growth. Those numbers aren’t good enough,” he said.

Nick Koornhof, of the Congress of the People, said government should lead the way and show it could spend taxpayers’ money properly. It was also important for the Congress of SA Trade Unions to support the budget.

“It is very important that Cosatu supports him [Gordhan] now. If they don’t do it, we are going to have trouble with regards to the state wage bill,” Koornhof said.

Positive under circumstances

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the budget was “somehow predictable, both in terms of what it addresses and in terms of what it fails to address”.

Much would depend on whether or not, this time around, declarations of policy would materialise into programmes of action. The most concerning aspect was the insufficient emphasis on economic growth, he said.

African Christian Democratic Party spokesman Steve Swart said the budget was a pleasant surprise. “All in all [it was] a very positive budget in difficult circumstances.”

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder welcomed plans aimed at encouraging the public to save. There were a number of positive announcements in the budget, he said.

United Democratic Movement deputy secretary general Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said the UDM was happy with the budget overall. “We feel it was a good speech under circumstances because you must keep in mind we are operating in an environment where there are declining revenues and ever-increasing demands for expenditure on government,” Kwankwa said.

Encouraging saving

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive director Viola Manuel said overall the budget was encouraging. “We support the minister’s call for demand-driven growth and we also thank him for acknowledging the importance of all the social partners working together.”

The move to encourage savings was a sensible one and really a move to lower the risk of the state having to take care of people who had not made provision.

Tax relief for small and micro business was welcome, but “we should view the tax relief offset by inflation and by the rising input costs”.

“If the cost of doing business is increasing, lowering tax only marginally offsets the problem,” Manuel said.

However, SA Chamber of Commerce CEO Neren Rau was concerned about the increase in taxes on business. “Our biggest concern is the increased taxes on business – capital gains tax and the corporate tax.

“We are a bit concerned about the impact that would have during a time when liquidity is fairly tight,” he said.