South African Students Congress Comments on the 2012/3 Budget

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 11:48

Old wine in a new bottle
 
The South African Students Congress (SASCO) notes the presentation of the 2012 budget speech by the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. We are greatly concerned that the Minister is travelling the same neo-liberal path that he (since his appointment as Minister of Finance) and his predecessor travelled before.
 
On education

We are encouraged by the commitment to expand subsidies for no-fee schools and hope these will be channelled to resources and infrastructure of our disadvantaged schools. Whilst we welcome the increase in education budget and the funding of new student accommodation infrastructure we are seriously concerned that no new funding has been declared towards the realization of free higher education.
 
This again vindicates our claim that the African National Congress (ANC) led government is not committed to its own resolution on free education. In the immediate; we hope that the funds allocated to education will, amongst other things, go towards broadening the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) as a path towards free education. We are deeply concerned about the silence of the budget on the actual funding allocated for building Universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.
 
On new cities support programme

We are quite disturbed that the programme does not seek to integrate cities and other urban localities based in the countryside but instead only metropolitan areas will benefit from the programme. This will undoubtedly perpetuate the uneven spatial development in urban areas. We dismiss with contempt the creation of the survival of the fittest mentality. We welcome the announcement on the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency which will improve capacity at our rural municipalities for planning and development.
 
On secondary tax termination

We are convinced that the decision to terminate secondary tax is an attempt on the part of government to please the captains of industry at the expense of the working class and the poor. It is our strongest view that these will deal adversely with the national fiscus. We are concerned that no commitment was made to improve the capacity of cooperatives, whilst government pledges to terminate secondary tax and assist other sections of business.
 
On the increase on tax of electricity produced by non-renewable resources

We are more than convinced that the increase on electricity tax will leave a lot of families trapped in the shackles of debt and poverty. It is illogical to increase this tax whilst many poor families depend on the same electricity for household use. The working class and the poor cannot be punished for the state’s inability to generate electricity from non-renewable resources.
 
On state involvement in key sectors of the economy

We are disturbed by the attitude of the minister on this question considering that here is a general consensus on building the capacity of a developmental state in our country. We are convinced that the minister should have budgeted for more involvement of the state in the economy including, but not limited to, upgrading of the Postbank to full commercial bank. We are also convinced that the involvement of state mining company deserved special attention in as far as it relates to mining operations, in our quest for ensuring that all citizens benefit from mineral resources of the country.
 
On Macro-Economic Policy

We are disturbed by the fact that the budget signals no clear departure from the current macro-economic policy framework, particularly fiscal and monetary policies, which are highly focused on the so-called 'market fundamentals'. Whilst there are a variety of rhetorical phrases, the speech, like all the previous ones is more concerned about achieving budget deficit and inflation targeting at the expense of job creation, decent work and various other socio-economic goals.  
 
E-toll gates in Gauteng

We note with dismay the Minister’s pronouncement on the E-toll system. We are told that government will subsidize this ill-thought and imperial project instead of scrapping it out altogether. We view this simply as an attempt to indebt the working class and the poor. This is nothing else by an attempt to further plunge the poor into the crisis of social reproduction. Together with other progressive forces, SASCO will place all its energy to ensure that this system is immediately halted. We call upon the working class and their organisations not to leave this issue unattended.
 
Ngoako Selamolela
President
South African Students Congress

Themba Masondo
Secretary General
South African Students Congress