What did you expect? A playboy-turned- politician, who already failed at each and every task and in each and every department is now playing Minister of Finance. The result, obviously, zero; or rather sub-zero, as was his performance this afternoon giving the annual Medium Term Budget Speech where Malusi Gigaba exceeded expectations only in one discipline: disappointment!
One would have laughed if it would not be so sad, but there stood a man without any answers, playing with shocking figures like a 2-year-old plays with radioactive rocks he accidentally found in the sand pit.
There are no more words for trying to give the dismal state of the South African economy a friendlier paint coat, the economy is at ground zero, and so would be the anticipated annual growth of its GDP if it hadn’t been for the massive crop yield that brought a chunk of cash into the state coffers. But as Aristotle already said: “One swallow does not make a summer, and neither does one fine day!”. The revenue shortfall leaves a gap of over ZAR 50bn, almost 5% of GDP and having recognized this, a Pravin Gordhan or a Trevor Manuel – even a Nhlanhla Nene would have rolled up their sleeves, set their expert teams on intravenous Red Bull drips and start developing a cure for the current course of destruction. But Gigaba? Oh no, he has no answers, no strategy and no plan, he will rather have an “interministerial committee looking at it”, sees “government committed to fiscal consolidation” which will “maintain the expenditure ceiling” and finally a “presidential task team will develop proposals to restore financial sustainability”. And while I am speechless, his nepotistic sponsor JZ is running around and trying to tie up a nuclear deal, that has neither sound grounds nor an adequate budget. But what do they both know about money? Nothing! And they believe as Nkandla was blowing over so will this crisis.
But this is not the only crisis this country faces. Gigaba did not address the financial mess of ESKOM, the Water Crisis in the Western Cape or the looming strikes for atrocious wage hikes in the public service sector. Of course not! What does he care about the DA-run Western Cape and as for the wages, his salary will be the first that is corrected upwards!
Here are the “High”lights of his Speech:
* Income Tax will most likely go up next year (no details!)
* Profound shift in relationship between GDP growth and tax collection (what does this mean? No growth no collection?)
* Projected Budget deficit over the next three years will be ZAR 209bn (and where did you see the expenditure ceiling now again?)
* Improve taxpayer confidence (in delayed tax refunds?)
* Economic growth will be at 0.7% instead of IMF prognosis of 0,2% (conveniently forgetting that the IMF did not know about the upcoming mega-harvest)
* There will be more financial demands from state-owned enterprises (of course there are as SAA, ESKOM, SABC and Postal Services are mismanaged with 0.2% profitability and should be closed or sold as per Ramaphosa)
* Gross National Debt to reach 60% of GDP by 2022 at a cost of 15% (Thank you for having by then neutralised all achievements of Manuel and Gordhan!
* Focus of increased (sic!) Government spending on education, culture, health and community development (hey, who needs water, electricity and public transport?)
Gigaba conveniently left out any information regarding the controversial introduction of the National Health Insurance or the Nuclear Energy Deal his puppet-master Zuma is currently cooking up.
To sum it up: this was not a Budget, this was the admittance of utter incompetence and cluelessness, stating the obvious and offering no plan. Subsequently to the Budget, the Rand fell to ZAR 13.97 to the US Dollar and ZAR 16.47 to the Euro. Bravo Minister, a seven-year-old would have done a better job!