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EDITORIAL | It was a boring budget for extraordinary times

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EDITORIAL | It was a boring budget for extraordinary times

It was very much what one might expect a minister in Ramaphosa’s government to deliver, but did it address its context?

Editorial

Before we disappear down the rabbit hole of depressing numbers and projections, it may help to sketch the context in which finance minister Enoch Godongwana in his maiden budget this week pencilled a measly annual growth rate of 1.8% — against a global average of about 4% as economies recover with the Covid pandemic tapering off.

We live in one of the most resource-abundant countries in the world, with an advanced mining sector, a developed agricultural sector and near-boundless attractions for foreign tourists. Yes, we have social problems arising from a legacy of dispossession and disempowerment and which express themselves as a low standard of education for the mass of the people, poor health indicators, poverty and homelessness. But to our natural resources we are also able to add a workforce that is skilled in parts, a resourceful and young population and the ingenuity that has made SA a centre of excellence, from medicine to astronomy, financial and tech innovation, legal and banking credibility.

Yet we have almost as many people out of work than we have in work. Over the next three years, we learned from Godongwana in his budget presentation in a makeshift parliament this week, SA will spend R3.3-trillion, which equates to almost 60% of our non-interest spending over the next three years, on the vulnerable and the indigent. The extension of the so-called Covid-19 grant of R350 a month will cost the fiscus R44bn this year...

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