Cosatu hopes Mboweni will give more focus to COVID-19 challenges

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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni may have a little more room to manoeuvre this year in his budget speech amid reports that tax revenues are surprisingly on the upside, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Statistics South Africa on Tuesday released shocking unemployment figures for the fourth quarter of 2020 with unemployment jumping 1.7 percentage points to 32.5%.

Mboweni will have to balance the need to cut costs in some sectors with stimulus and job creation.

But the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) Parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks, says COVID-19 must first be addressed.

“Our number one priority is combatting the virus. So they need to roll-out the vaccine much quicker. We really want to see the budget being linked to the President’s (Cyril Ramaphosa) State-of-the-Nation-Address. To provide economic and social relief for workers and companies under lockdown or distress.”

“To stimulate economic growth, to rolling-out the infrastructure at our ports and rails and energy, which can spur economic growth. Government also needs to tackle the huge levels of money that we lose to corruption. So we can spend government money more efficiently and reach the targets that we set,” says Parks.

Universities hope for no cuts

Universities South Africa will be watching the budget speech closely, hoping for no further cuts in subsidies.

The CEO of the umbrella body of higher education institutions, Professor Ahmed Bawa, says there’s been a steady decline in student funding by government over the past 10 years.

The below video is the full interview with Professor Ahmed Bawa:

Pensioners hope for grant increase

Residents of an old-age home in Kimberley in the Northern Cape say they hope the Finance Minister will not only increase the pensioners’ grant but set it at a living income.

Many complain they are not able to sustain themselves with the grant.

Mboweni announced an R80 increase during the budget speech in 2020 while pensioners also received an additional R250 during the early stages of the national lockdown.

Watch the video below for the full report: