Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) was roundly criticised by labour for being scant on detail regarding how it plans to reignite the struggling economy.

Mboweni tabled the address in parliament on Wednesday, outlining the government’s spending plans over the next three years.

Union federation Cosatu’s spokesperson Sizwe Pamla described the medium-term budget as “shockingly weak, inadequate and a missed opportunity”.

"The only message that the unemployed people were looking for was that of government giving them hope. But they are on their own, government is not prepared to intervene. Prayers are what the unemployed and poor have to count on going forward because the government is not prepared to do anything," said Pamla.

He said that while Cosatu was happy about SA Revenue Service’s (Sars) improved capacity, it was however failing to execute its mandate. “Sars only inspects about 5% of imports coming into our country. This country is a warehouse for criminal enterprises and smugglers because 95% of goods coming into the country are not inspected by Sars.”

In his statement on Wednesday Mboweni said: “Sars is being fixed.”

In the current year, he said tax revenue has been revised down by R15.4bn compared with the October estimate.

Revenue from personal income tax was expected to fall short by R25.3bn, value added tax by R12.1bn and company tax by R10.6bn.

Federation of Unions of SA president Godfrey Selematsela said SA was in a crisis. He said more challenges lay ahead if the current problems were not addressed by the government.

“Our national debt of R3-trillion is getting huge. We support some of the proposals by the minister, such as putting a ceiling on the amount ministers can spend on buying cars,” he said.

National Council of Trade Unions general secretary Narius Moloto described the medium-term budget as “reactive” and that it tried to appease credit ratings agencies.

“The minister was trying to deal with the issues raised by the ratings agencies and the jobs crisis. But we wanted to see more action taken against the … unemployment crisis.”

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za