Gordhan 'on target': organisations
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was "on target" in his medium-term budget policy statement on Tuesday, trade union UASA said, while the ANC and the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry also welcomed it.
"Uasa is impressed by the overall tone of the speech," said spokesman André Venter in a statement.
The union welcomed "plans to beef up efforts to curb wasteful and extravagant public expenditure and the shift in spending priorities from welfare to infrastructure and economic growth".
"In addition, the R25 billion package for business support is a clear indication that the minister is serious and convinced that businesses need to be bolstered as the only way to create sustainable jobs," Venter said.
"We are hopeful that the different government departments will heed the call and will ensure that the required competencies are put in place for the correct spending of the budgeted amounts."
Venter said Uasa hoped President Jacob Zuma's sacking of Local Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde on Monday would set an example.
"We further trust that President Zuma’s sacking of two ministers yesterday will spark off a trend to root out corruption and fraud."
The ANC also said it welcomed the medium-term budget.
The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has welcomed the focus of the medium-term budget policy statement on Tuesday.
"Sacci agrees with the view that creating jobs, reducing poverty, building infrastructure and expanding our economy should be the primary focus to support sustainable economic development," Sacci CEO Neren Rau said in a statement.
"We read this to imply that shared long-term goals and objectives and well-sequenced reforms are more likely to succeed than short-term populist interventions," he said.
Sacci welcomed the shift away from poverty alleviation measures that foster dependency to moves supporting economic activity, leading to more jobs and reduced poverty.
The chamber was happy with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's announcement of pro-growth and pro-business infrastructure development to create an enabling business environment for higher GDP growth.
Rau warned that "care should be taken not to let the higher levels of public debt result in higher costs and user fees".
Sacci welcomed the implementation of job creation initiatives under the jobs fund.
It was happy about the allocation of R25 billion over the next six years to a competitiveness fund.
Gordhan said this fund would boost industrial development, assist enterprises and accelerate job creation.
Gordhan's comments on the National Health Insurance scheme also found favour.
Sacci welcomed "some direction" on the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHI) as well as increased spending on improving medical facilities, Rau said.
National health insurance pilot projects would take place in 10 districts to test feasibility and "scalability".
The business chamber would have liked to see more support for small and medium enterprises which were "obvious drivers of economic growth".
"It was mentioned but was by no means a major theme," Rau said.
He would have liked to have seen regulatory and administrative reforms to promote small business development as well as a shift in expenditure priorities towards local government.
"Although we welcome the further incentives for industrial development zones (IDZs), we are concerned about their current effectiveness," Rau said.
Sacci was concerned over the rapid rise in the public sector wage bill in the context of high public sector vacancies and poor delivery.
While welcoming public sector infrastructure spending, Rau was concerned about the financing mechanisms for such spending.
Sacci was not happy about a R266 million gratuity paid to outgoing councillors.
"Despite the increased pressure on the fiscus and higher debt levels, Sacci lauds the National Treasury on continuing to underpin the budget with fiscal discipline," Rau said.
"We expected higher debt and deficit levels, and welcome the counter-cyclical fiscal policy approach."