Pensioner in poverty. Picture: Twitter
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s mini budget today must guarantee real increases for social grants, make adequate resources available to boost agriculture’s competitiveness and support farmers and stop his anti-worker attitude.
These are the expectations expressed by antipoverty bodies, trade unionists, farmers’ unions and economists from Mboweni as he tables his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), or the mini budget today.
Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute director Isobel Frye said Mboweni’s MTBPS must guarantee that his 2020 budget will ensure real increases in social grants that would go a long way to alleviate poverty.
“The MTBPS must commit to guarantee real increases in social grants in 2020. If not, the state is obliged to justify why it is not and this justification can and should be demanded in the Constitutional Court,” Frye said.
She said South Africa, as a middle-income country, had a high per capita GDP rate for developing countries. This per capita figure belied the highly skewed inequalities, both in income and wealth.
According to the most recent Poverty Trends Report, over half of all South Africans (55,5%) live in poverty. More than one in four (25%) are literally starving.
She said people who are starving cannot grow their productive capacity, learn the technical skills required to navigate current advances, let alone begin to learn skills. With a broad unemployment rate of 39%, social security was the main source of income into just over 30% of households.
“Social security is seen as a safety net. It represents a contract between state and citizen that should protect people from misfortune and the indignity of starvation.”
This sentiment was echoed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).
Mboweni is expected to announce further austerity measures in the mini budget in an “effort to please the neo-liberal masters”, said Saftu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi.
Cosatu said the federation and millions of workers had high expectations for Mboweni’s MTBPS.
“Our economy, state-owned enterprises and the state are facing their worst crises since 1994,” said Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks. “About 40% of workers are unemployed, thousands are being retrenched monthly, 400,000 job seekers are entering the economy each year and yet we have an economy that is barely growing above 1% per annum.”
AgriSA said it expected the MTBPS to make adequate resources available to boost agriculture’s competitiveness and to support farmers, especially in drought-affected areas.
“We expect the MTBPS to make resources available to boost agriculture’s competitiveness and to support farmers so that the sector can continue producing quality food and contribute towards job creation and poverty alleviation,” said Dr Requier Wait.
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