The Minister’s speech comes with no surprises as we are all aware of the global economic crisis that did not spare South Africa, resulting in a recession. However, the Minister can only do what can be done, especially when we look at the growing budget deficit which is envisaged to continue growing in the next 3 years, hitting the R1.3 trillion mark before it slows down. It is a well balanced budget that needs to be commended.
We welcome the measures to promote youth employment through the proposed subsidy to employers. However, it will be commendable if the Minister involved in developing an industrial policy takes it up with all stakeholders for it to be functional. It is an opportunity for young people to be absorbed within industry. After all, how are these young people going to get experience if industry does not open up? We do not have to be paid to develop the skills of our young people.
The proposed increase in taxes on fuel by 25.5 cents will see an increase in transport costs for the poor and will also contribute towards the cost of basic necessities such as food and clothing. It is commendable that education received a high proportion of the budget. However, it remains critical that the funds be put to better use by employing the necessary tools that will make pupils and teachers utilise this budget to the benefit of the country.
It is good that Government recognise that HIV/AIDS is a crisis that needs to be attended to. The additional R5.4 billion will go a long way towards preserving the lives of those already infected. Partnership between the private and public sector should take centre stage if the national health insurance system is to succeed.
In terms of the human settlement grant, it is critical that government looks into the housing gap to accommodate the middle income group. An addition of R6.7 billion to cushion poor households regarding the rising costs of electricity and water is welcomed.
On the social grant, the monthly increments for the old and the rise in disability grants are welcomed, although small. In terms of the child support grant, the increase is also too small, although we welcome that it will bring an additional two million children on board.
We welcome that there is recognition that corruption has retarded development and hence there is need to have it stamped out in all government bodies. It is our greatest hope that the inter-ministerial committee will continue to do a good job without it being corrupted in future.