The budget still failed to address major concerns around job generation and poverty alleviation strategies. The reality in South Africa is that the economy has been unable to absorb labour sufficiently quickly into the economy and as a result, the level of unemployment continues to increase. This in turn affects levels of poverty within the country which in turn impacts negatively on issues such as crime, for example. The assertion that the Government has created 1.5 million jobs over the past five years has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Many of these jobs have been temporary and we would like to see a breakdown of these jobs created and whether they have been sustainable.
The introduction of a poverty level index is to be welcomed provided the baseline is determined in a consultative manner. It would also be important to see how the index will be used not just to measure the level of poverty in the country, but also on how to address the issues of poverty in a pragmatic way.
The increased allocation for early childhood spending and feeding schemes is to be welcomed, but once again it is hoped that the programmes are carefully thought out and that sufficient resources have been allocated for monitoring to prevent abuses of the system. However, the budget of R121 billion indicates a recognition by Government of the present educational crisis.
The increase in social grants did not go far enough. The increase of the grant from R200 to R220 can hardly be regarded as pro-poor. One wonders if the Minister is really in touch with the poor of this country and how much it takes to bring up a child so that the child has a decent meal and is able to access rights such as schooling.
I did not see the budget show any significant deviation from the trend over the last couple of years, but I do feel that a more comprehensive strategy has to be developed around issues of poverty in this country and how it is addressed.