Hon. EM Buthelezi
For the second time in a row, we are meeting under difficult circumstances, as a result of the global health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has shown us the importance of the national purse in protecting the nation through availing funds for the procurement of vaccines, and closing the socio-economic gap created by the pandemic. The efforts of the National Treasury have helped to protect socio-economic rights through the funding of emergency programmes.
Despite our immediate health challenges brought about by Covid-19, this nation must move on. We note and appreciate the willingness of this Department, through its proposed Budget, to review the tax policy, support economically-integrated cities and communities, develop infrastructure and make government procurement more efficient and inclusive. We also note that this Budget seeks to facilitate international and regional cooperation.
The IFP has always made its position known that inclusive economic growth and reindustrialisation depend on lowering taxes to decrease the cost of doing business and to make our country appealing to foreign direct investment. We reiterate that economic growth will come from inclusive policies and strategies, and that it will not come from overly taxing our people and businesses.
While noting that the proposed review of the tax policy seeks to eliminate tax loopholes, the IFP does not believe that our Budget shortfalls will be met by increasing taxes year-in and year-out. Instead, the IFP believes that lower taxes will drive economic growth, but only when utilised appropriately and not squandered. In this regard, the Department must do its part under the Constitution.
As the engine that drives our economy and funds public programmes, this Department must thrive in order to fulfil its mandate as per section 216(1) of the Constitution. It must ensure transparency, accountability and sound financial controls in the management of South Africa’s public finances.
However, it appears that this Department has fallen short of this obligation, as illustrated by the squandering of Covid-19 emergency funds. National Treasury must be vigilant to ensure that our hard-earned taxes do not fall into the hands of opportunists who have no regard for the national interest and the plight of our people.
The IFP believes that at the heart of this Department’s Budget should be an unwavering commitment to creating opportunities for the youth, most of whom are unemployed. The Department must take their plight into consideration, and build and maintain an economic policy that ensures that our youth are taken care of in the economy and given opportunities to thrive. The National Treasury must support state entities that will deliver on this objective. We call on National Treasury to promote economic growth, social development and reduce poverty through proper allocation of funds to government departments and efficient oversight of the national purse.
The IFP supports this Budget.