Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will on Wednesday table the much anticipated budget speech in the midst of a stagnant economy due to among others the COVID-19 pandemic and record high unemployment levels.
The figures the Statistics South Africa released on Tuesday put the country’s unemployment rate at 32.5%, with seven million people officially without jobs and 60% youth unemployment.
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke says more people are actively looking for employment:
[Thread] South Africa’s #unemployment rate increased by 1,7 percentage points to 32,5% in Q4:2020 compared to Q3:2020.
— Stats SA (@StatsSA) February 23, 2021
ANC MP Noxolo Abraham says they expect Mboweni to announce more funding for coronavirus vaccines as the country starts to vaccinate health care workers as well as a solid economic recovery plan.
“We expect [that] the minister will talk to the provision of sufficient funding for government’s response to the challenges that are facing our country – an aggressive vaccine roll-out to protect front line workers the most vulnerable groups. An additional building [of] our own capacity to manufacture vaccine or in line to economic reconstruction and recovery [plan],” adds Abraham.
Meanwhile, economists say Mboweni is unlikely to increase taxes in order to finance the country’s vaccine rollout programme.
Experts say the minister should rather focus on keeping spending low in order to make fiscal room to fund an effective vaccination programme.
Economists say he should lean more on the private sector for support.
The video below discusses expectations ahead of the budget speech:
They say Mboweni will be faced with the challenging task of keeping a tight lid on spending in order to fund a R20 billion vaccine rollout programme.