With the State of the Nation Address by President Zuma and the Budget behind us, and the plethora of state of the province addresses for good measure, South Africa can truly said to be in its Season of Promises.
The budget tabled today by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was in all likelihood the last that will come in at under R1 trillion. The government will spend R907 billion in the coming financial year, due to the rise in inflation by plus 2 percent in each of the coming three years. We have come a long way, at least in expenditure terms – the 1996/7 budget was R157 billion, and ten years ago, in 2000/1, it was (only) R245 billion.
Government putting unemployment and poverty alleviation so central in the 2010 budget is to be welcomed. However, more must be done to address the structural nature of poverty and inequality.
We welcome the attempt by Minister Pravin Gordhan to balance the competing demands of staying the course and the need for change in the face of the global economic crisis. This balancing act is made even more complex by the shift in the balance of forces within the governing African National Congress (ANC) alliance before and after Polokwane, a development that posed a threat to the growth, employment and redistribution (GEAR) consensus.
Johannesburg Child Welfare welcomes the provision in the National Budget for the extension of the Child Support Grant to impoverished children aged between 16 and 18 years. This is a long-awaited development that will enable a large number of young people to complete their schooling, instead of dropping out early and falling into dangerous methods of survival such as crime, prostitution and other "worst forms" of child labour.