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What does it mean to say last week’s budget was a good one "crafted in a difficult time" (Business Day, February 22)? Why does a Financial Mail writer call it a "masterstroke", given the challenges? A common response to budgets has been to commend them … in the circumstances. Does the qualifier mean failed policies legitimise bad budgets? This budget is bad because the government will consume more wealth than ever, more than ever will be consumed by debt and antiprosperity controls will be intensified rather than, as promised repeatedly, relaxed. A budget of this magnitude, without liberalisation to generate growth, promotes stagnation, unemployment, discontent and instability. In his budget speech Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said he wanted transformation with growth. What made the drumbeat of those two words — used 54 and 50 times — appropriate is the extent to which he was for the former and against the latter. Statistician Garth Zietsman does an annual calculation of Tax Free...

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