Budget 2021 wishlist: Here's what SA hopes to hear from Tito Mboweni's speech today

24 February 2021 - 12:30
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
Finance minister Tito Mboweni will deliver his 2021 budget speech on Wednesday. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times Finance minister Tito Mboweni will deliver his 2021 budget speech on Wednesday. File photo.

All eyes will be on finance minister Tito Mboweni when he delivers his much-anticipated budget speech in parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

Mboweni is set to deliver his budget speech at 2pm. It come in the wake of shocking unemployment figures that were shared by Stats SA on Tuesday.

The unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 increased by 1.7 percentage points to 32.5% compared to the third quarter. This is the highest since the start of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2008.

Stats SA said the unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition of unemployment, decreased by 0.5 of a percentage point to 42.6% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the third quarter.

“The results of the QLFS for the fourth quarter of 2020 show that the number of employed people increased by 333,000 to 15 million, and the number of unemployed people also increased by 701,000 to 7.2 million compared to the third quarter of 2020, resulting in an increase of one million (up by 4.9%) in the number of people in the labour force,” it said.

Among other things, Mboweni is expected to elaborate on measures undertaken to help the economy recover since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic more than 11 months ago.

Any changes announced by Mboweni on Wednesday come into effect in April.

Last month, he called for South Africans to send him their tips on how to improve the country’s ailing economy. The liquor and motor industries have asked for tax relief.

The Automobile Association (AA) urged Mboweni not to increase fuel levies, citing the financial pressure on South Africans.

“SA’s fragile economy, which has been dealt a further massive blow by the impact of Covid-19, is in a dire state, with many millions of South Africans in worse financial positions than they were this time last year. Minister Mboweni will have to carefully balance the needs of government with the ability of citizens to fund those needs,” it said.

The Beer Association of SA (Basa) said tax relief was the least the government could do to help its members, whose businesses have been devastated by the three bans on alcohol trading.

The association's members include the Craft Brewers' Association of SA, Heineken SA and SA Breweries (SAB).

“To help rebuild the local beer industry, we are calling on minister Mboweni to make a commitment not to increase excise taxes for the forthcoming financial year,” said the association

SAB, the maker of Carling Black Label and Castle Lite beer, among other alcoholic beverages, asked Mboweni to “tax beer responsibly”.

“SAB buys from more than 1,000 farmers locally. The majority are emerging black female farmers. When you tax beer responsibly, it supports jobs in rural communities,” it said.

Many on social media, including several politicians, expressed what they hoped to see out of the budget speech. Here is a snapshot of what they had to say: