Honourable Speaker and Honourable members
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) supports the 2017 Fiscal Framework and Revenue Proposal and the Report of the Standing Committee on Finance.
We appreciate that the Minister, as always, tried his best, notwithstanding the difficult circumstances occasioned by the bold call from the President for a budget that responds to the Radical Socio-Economic Transformation path as adopted by government. This was a very difficult expectation given the hard fact of a government which is wrestling with an unprecedented national debt challenge post the dawn of democracy.
Consequently, and with respect to the land question, the budget failed to create hope for a speedy transfer of land to its rightful owners. This was further exacerbated after the ruling party subsequently objected to the possibility to expropriate land without compensation and or with compensation only to the improvements made in the land.
There was no budget for extension of land expropriation beyond the Constitutional limit of 19 June 1913. Had we agreed to amend the Constitution, we would be talking a different story.
Although the Minister had difficulty to manoeuvre for a radical budget, he has however confirmed that our monies as South Africans are in good hands. That is what all good citizens of this country at least want, in particular during such difficult time, when the economy is struggling to grow. People are jobless, poverty is on the rise and individual debts are the order of the day.
This therefore brings an urgent challenge to the Minister, his colleagues in the Executive, the industry, civil society and citizens in general, to ensure that our economy grows and reduce the ratio between the revenue base and the debt.
The austerity measures that were announced are welcome. However, government must implement these without compromising on the delivery of basic services to the poorest of the poor.
Taking advantage of, amongst others, corporate income tax, government, working with industry should consider financial awareness campaigns at schools and communities in general. When society has an economy that is not growing, and citizens are heavily indebted, that then creates a deeper crisis and possible collapse of the entire economy and the nation.
Lastly, the UDM still believe that it is possible to provide fee free higher education and training in particular for the poor, and that this has not been provided for. We, however, welcome the steps taken to improve the chances of our children achieving a degree without a crippling debt burden, post qualification.