Reaction by Minister Alan Winde to the budget speech
Following Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s budget speech today, Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said: “ The 2018 budget speech is a consequence of the past few years of ANC governance, which have rocked business confidence and wreaked havoc on our economy.”
“The increase in VAT announced by the Minister will hurt the poorest of the poor the most. The basket of items that are VAT exempt is small, and the poor will be the most impacted by this increase.”
We welcome the allocation of R473 million in drought relief funds for provinces and areas affected by drought.
The impact of the drought in the Western Cape has been severe. The province has already spent R72 million of its own funds, and a further R40 million in national funding, on drought relief support to emerging farmers and on animal fodder. In total, R369 million has been diverted from our core functions to supplement disaster funding since 2015/16.
By delaying the national declaration of the drought as a disaster, the national government is also delaying relief efforts. We experienced huge delays in the administration of flood relief, and call on the Minister to deal with this funding support efficiently to avert further losses.
We welcome efforts to mitigate agri-worker job losses by temporarily increasing job opportunities in the Working for Water programme.
In the last StatsSA labour force survey we saw year-on-year job losses of 57 000 in the agriculture sector. Providing temporary alternative employment opportunities, particularly for seasonal workers, will go a long way to ensuring stability in the rural economy.
We are however disappointed that the Minister made no mention of the major projects which would contribute to water security and land reform in the province - the upgrades of the Clanwilliam- and Brandvlei Dams. We will continue to push for these major, necessary infrastructure projects to go ahead.
While Minister Gigaba acknowledged the important role of “raising investment and improving ease of doing business” in growing jobs, there was little detail on how this is to be achieved.
The Western Cape Government has already recognised this, and established our Red Tape Reduction Unit to make it easier to do business here. This is why the Western Cape has the lowest unemployment rate in the country by far, at 19.5%.