Mboweni was quick off the mark during his medium-term budget speech and highlighted that ordinary South Africans are feeling the pinch at the tills and at the petrol pumps.
“For ordinary South Africans, it has become a difficult time. Administered prices such as electricity and fuel have risen. Unemployment is unacceptably high. Poor services and corruption has hit the poor hardest.”
In an effort to assist the poor, Mboweni imposed a zero vat rate on sanitary pads, bread and cake flour from April 2018. He also announced housing subsidies amounting to R1 billion, that will be centralised to help low to middle income households access affordable home loans.
In the public health care sector, R350 million has been re-prioritised to recruit about 2000 health professionals into public health facilities.
This has been welcomed by some on the streets of Cape Town.
“I think it’s a very big change for people in our community who do not have jobs. It’s a good idea if we cannot pay tax for food. Let’s say people usually buy everyday like Bokomo bread … that kind of stuff; so, people who do not afford to buy this stuff can buy it. From what I hear, it does sound like it’s quite a positive change, especially with the aspects of the sanitary towels for women.”
However, for others, it’s just not enough.
“Yes, housing is important, health care is important, but what about the other things? Are they investing money in crime, getting more polices? What about that? It doesn’t make much of a difference; like make school fees cheaper, like something else.”
Meanwhile, others believe it is still early days for Mboweni and only time will tell whether these tweaks to the budget will and can improve the lives of struggling South Africans.