I saw a post on facebook yesterday that read “Tito Mboweni was more exciting as a song, not a finance minister”. If his budget speech is anything to go by then yes, I couldn’t agree more. There was nothing interesting to it, he spoke about the same old issues and barely outlined any plans for economic growth.
As stated in the budget, real GDP growth is expected to rise to 1.5% in 2019 and 2.1% in 2021. Projected revenue is R1.58 trillion this year and spending is R1.83 trillion leaving a R243 billion deficit. R209.4 billion will be spent on interest. Gross national debt will stabilise at about 60% of GDP in 2023/2024. Excise duties on alcohol and tobacco will be increased, a bottle of whiskey will cost us R4.54 more. Fuel levies will increase by 29 cents a litre. Then there was also talk about how the budget will be allocated with the focus being on education and of course Eskom which will be allocated R23 billion a year for the next three years to support it’s reconfiguration (on the condition that it appoints a chief reorganisation officer).
I think we’re facing two major issues right now, which are slow economic growth and Eskom (it’s failure has a huge impact on the economy). The minister reiterated the Presidents plan to sub-devide Eskom into three independent components and made it clear that government will not take on Eskoms debt. On the economic growth side, there was not much of a plan there. There will be some cost cutting by means of early retirement options for government employees but there was nothing new to fast track growth. He obviously spoke about creating jobs and investing in the private sector like they always do because a speech is never complete without mentioning “Job Creation” yet the unemployment rate remains high.
Honestly, he had nothing to offer us. He even sought help from the Bible, quoting the good book three times during his speech. He said it was time to sow the seed of renewal and growth (seriously, only now?) but he had no game plan. I was not moved by any of it (yawn).