Concerns have been expressed about the impact of the latest Value Added Tax (VAT) increase, and fuel levy on the poor and the working class.

Opposition parties and labour movements were reacting to the tough measures announced by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in Wednesday’s budget address, which others say will boost investment.

Secretary General of labour federation FEDUSA, Dennis George, is especially concerned about the increase in Value Added Tax.

“Fedusa is disappointed for the fact that government decided to increase VAT, it managed to keep VAT flat for more than 23 years because we know that VAT is a regressive tax, and this tax, even though you exempt the poor and working class people from VAT, it still affects them. And that’s the reason why we feel its very disappointing that this has happened, so this was not a good Budget – and its going to take years to recover from this.”

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali has expressed similar views.

“The overall budget, we are disappointed…. We are not looking much in terms of the rand and cent allocation, because we understand that we are in a difficult time. We are looking more to policy direction… this is a structural issue, this is a structural problem…. unless you really restructure the process and the emphasis, and your priorities in terms of the budget.”

Watch Budget speech below: