Mixed reaction to budget

SAPTU (South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union) is of the opinion that the Minister of Finance’s Budget Speech is well balanced. The relief therein for Eskom’s enormous debt burden will enable the utility to focus on transmission amid the ongoing power crisis.

SAPTU also welcomes positive steps such as education and culture which again get the biggest piece of the budget pie. Of particular importance to SAPTU, a role player in tertiary education, is the announcement that universities, TVET and community colleges will be supported to provide good teaching and training since government expenditure for the post-school sector in the medium term is rising at 5 % per year.

However, SAPTU is very concerned that the time bomb of unemployment, especially among the youth, has not been addressed because more money has not been allocated for job creation. The unemployment rate of around 45% is alarming and currently unemployment falls disproportionately on the youth with approximately 60% of those aged 15 to 34 unable to find work.

The Minister acknowledges that an extremely important sector such as agriculture is experiencing performance risks such as the current power crisis and flooding as well as increased electricity consumer prices and that more funds must be made available for the Department of Agriculture to improve agricultural production and ensure food security. The significant consequences that a lack of food security has for South Africa and certain sub-Saharan countries are of national importance.

No new taxes or tax increases have been announced except for sin taxes which have been adjusted for inflation. South Africans will now also be able to deduct a quarter of the cost of their taxable income for solar panels for residential homes and businesses.

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