Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan delivered his 2016 Budget speech to the National Assembly in Parliament on Wednesday, 24 February. He emphasised that together, South Africa was capable of facing, and overcoming, economic challenges.
Compiled by Priya Pitamber
Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan’s 2016 Budget speech was one of hope despite the global economic conditions and local challenges South Africa is facing. He repeated that as a nation, we were robust and were able to achieve the country’s goals as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
We look back on some of the more memorable quotes from his address.
His introduction set the tone immediately:
We do so in a spirit of frankness, both about our challenges and the opportunity to turn our economy’s direction towards hope, confidence and a better future for all.
I have a simple message. We are strong enough, resilient enough and creative enough to manage and overcome our economic challenges.
On what South Africans want:
All of us want jobs, thriving businesses, engaged professionals, narrowing inequality, and fewer people in poverty.
All of us want a new values paradigm, a society at peace with itself, a nation energised by the task of building stronger foundations for our future society and economy.
We want our government to function effectively, our people to work in dignity, with resources for their families, decent homes and opportunities for their children.
We want to see progress throughout our land, in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, construction, tourism, science and research, sport and leisure, trade and commerce.
It is within our grasp to achieve this future.
On the trials we face:
We are conscious of the difficulties we face. Our resilience as a nation, black and white, can propel us to a better future if we make the right choices.
On the Budget:
The Budget tabled today is guided by the NDP. It is a budget for inclusive growth, it emphasises partnerships amongst role players in our economy, it prioritises education and infrastructure investment, it supports employment creation and it contributes to building a capable, developmental state.
The bulk of the 2016 Budget will go to economic affairs, agriculture, and basic education. (Image: 2016 Budget Guide, Sars and the Department of Treasury)
On working together:
Our faith communities, non-governmental organisations and community volunteers all demonstrate daily that basic needs can be met with dignity. Initiatives like Operation Hydrate and Gift of the Givers have led the way in responding to the impact of the drought.
On the growth of South Africa and other countries:
It is notable that faster growth is being achieved in countries which have undertaken bold structural reforms, such as India’s scaling back of subsidies for industry and opening up of trade opportunities, and the promotion of skilled immigration, urban investment and labour-intensive manufacturing and agro-processing in South-east Asian and several African economies. These efforts have helped boost investor sentiment and reduce economic vulnerabilities.
Our own structural challenges and reforms are articulated in the National Development Plan. Our economic recovery depends on our ability to convert the plan into actions that deliver on the promise for a better life for all.
The Treasury currently expects growth in the South African economy to be just 0.9% this year, after 1.3% in 2015. This reflects both depressed global conditions and the impact of the drought.
Our working partnership with business leaders and social stakeholders, under President Zuma’s initiative, is about implementing these and other aspects of the National Development Plan.
This year’s Budget… is focused on fiscal consolidation. We cannot spend money we do not have. We cannot borrow beyond our ability to repay. Until we can ignite growth and generate more revenue, we have to be tough on ourselves.
On new taxes:
Introduction of a tyre levy to finance recycling programmes, increases in the incandescent globe tax, the plastic bag levy and the motor vehicle emissions tax.
Introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
On the health of the nation:
Our policy commitment is to achieve universal health coverage and comprehensive social security. These contribute to the broader framework for inclusive growth, decent work, income security and social protection that forms part of the National Development Plan.
We can turn today’s adversity into opportunities.
On working with our strengths:
We can address the weaknesses that create policy uncertainty, we can build on the strengths that are our resource base, our institutions and our workforce. We can do things differently where we need to innovate.
On thanking key role players:
Allow me to thank you, Mister President and Minister Deputy President, for your leadership and support. I must also thank Cabinet colleagues for your contributions to addressing the challenges before us.
Members of the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget, including Deputy Minister Jonas, have provided sterling support.
I thank our provincial premiers and finance MECs, and municipal mayors, who share our fiscal and financial responsibilities.
Please allow me to express appreciation to:
- Minister Nene for his valuable contribution to our government and Treasury;
- Director-General Lungisa Fuzile and officials of the National Treasury;
- Governor Kganyago, the deputy governors and staff of the South African Reserve Bank;
- Commissioner Moyane and staff of the South African Revenue Service;
- Commissioners and staff of the Financial and Fiscal Commission;
- The chairpersons, boards, chief executive officers and staff of the DBSA, the Land Bank, the Public Investment Commission, the Financial Services Board, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Government Pension Administration Agency;
- The staff and constituency representatives of Nedlac, and particularly its Public Finance Chamber;
- Judge Dennis Davis and members of the Tax Committee;
- I am especially grateful to the chair of the Finance Committee, the honourable Carrim, acting chair of the Appropriation Committee, honourable Gcwabaza and chairs of the Select Committee on Finance and Appropriation, honourable De Beer and honourable Mohai, who have responsibility for facilitating the consideration of the Division of Revenue Bill and the Appropriation Bill, and the revenue bills, which will be tabled later in the year.
We are resilient. We are committed. We are resourceful.
Looking back on his extraordinary life of resilience, and of commitment, former President Mandela said this:
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”