OUTA welcomes most of Minister Mboweni’s mid-term budget but is disappointed at another SAA bailout and the insistence on retaining the failed e-toll scheme
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomes the bulk of Minister Tito Mboweni’s mid-term budget as a laudable attempt to tackle South Africa’s financial crisis and clean up the mess left by the Zuma administration.
“This is an economy-stimulating, corruption-fighting speech that recognises the need to deal with declining governance and malfeasance across all levels of government and the reprioritisation of R50 billion for infrastructure projects without increasing expenditure,” says OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage.
“We welcome the promise to tackle the water problems and leadership capacity issues in Municipalities, as well as the Vaal River debacle. Water availability and quality are crucial issues, as is the collapse of many local municipalities.”
OUTA also welcomes the efforts to address the R32bn overspending on the public sector wage bill, along with a number of initiatives to lighten the load on the poor and vulnerable, in particular; the zero-rating of VAT on essentials; the promise to provide proper toilets and schools for our youth; funding for more health professionals and investment in labour intensive agriculture sector to drive job creation.
“We are extremely pleased with plans to beef up the capacity of SARS and the promises of action against those who steal and waste funds,” says Duvenage, “however, we need less talk and more action in this regard.”
While the majority of Mboweni’s speech is encouraging and focused on alleviating a strained South African economy, he sadly missed the plot on retaining e-tolls and in bailing out the state airlines by R6.2bn.
While reshuffling the Transport budget gives SANRAL an extra R5.75bn, this comes from non-toll road and railway projects.
“This budget offers no solution to the failed e-tolls project, other than to reshuffle an extra R5.75bn to pay Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project debts,” says Duvenage. “Government’s insistence on pushing e-tolls as an efficient user-pays scheme, when it is the worst performing of all electronic tolling schemes in the world, has become a desperate farce that Government must now come to terms with. The Finance Minister’s e-toll statement is in direct conflict with the resolution of the Gauteng ANC as well as those living in economic hub of the country.”