Equal Education urges Treasury to stop cuts to education budget

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Lobby group, Equal Education, is calling on National Treasury to stop cuts to the basic education budget.

This comes as Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, prepares to table his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

Equal Education Researcher Jane Borman says more funds need to be allocated towards fixing issues at schools nationwide.

Borman says, “We are hoping to see the basic education grow, it is projected to grow over the next three years, at least in line with inflation and increasing learner enrolments, but in February, the projections for 2023 were that it wouldn’t be the case and there would be a lot less money for basic education. So, we are hoping that changes but I wouldn’t say we are cautiously optimistic, unfortunately.”

Public sector wage bill

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has called on National Treasury to allocate funds towards an increase in the Public Sector Wage Bill.

Saftu’s Spokesperson Trevor Shaku says, “We can be able, first and foremost, to deal with the infrastructure backlog but also increase the wages in the public sector so that our people can get adequate services. The problem lies in making resources available in the public sector and making resources available for public institutions.

Chief Economist at Citadel, Maarten Ackerman says, “On the expense side unfortunately it’s been tough. The big ones are the wage bill and the negotiations about salary increases, which currently make 40% of the budget. So, if we can’t get that under control then it takes money away from where we need to spend on things like infrastructure and healthcare and the like.”

Debt and fiscal deficit

Economists believe debt and fiscal deficit ratios will be significantly lower in this year’s medium-term budget than previously forecast.

National Treasury is likely to revise down the country’s growth prospects because of load shedding and rising inflation.

Rolling blackouts continue to drag GDP prospects. The good news, however, is that economists expect revenue growth to be higher than February’s budget estimates on improved tax revenue.

Chief economist at the Bureau for Economic Research, Hugo Pienaar says, “In February Treasury forecast 2.1% real GDP growth for this year, given that everything that had happened the war in Ukraine-Russia, higher inflation interest rates, continues load shedding treasury will probably have to revise that number down somewhat to I guess just below 2%, cause we still had the boost from the better than expected first quarter GDP numbers this year so that helps the 2022 number.”

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Additional reporting by Risha Maduray and Amina Accram.