23 February 2017
The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) has noted the 2017 Budget delivered by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The Budget lacks the radical economic transformation as announced by the President Zuma in his State of the Nation Address (SONA). Does this mean the Treasury is again the spokesperson of the white monopoly capital? The economy is not growing and the financial sector continues to allow the banks to manipulate the currency to enrich them but the Treasury is lukewarm on the matter. The Treasury is loudly silent on the Government bank as part of progress to change the apartheid superstructure.
The minister's announcement regarding affordable housing : an increase in the threshold above which transfer duty is paid from R750 000 to R900 000 leaves a lot to be desired as it comes at a time when discussions between the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSCBC) and the Government Employee Housing Scheme (GEHS) are at an advanced stage. We see this announcement as an attempt to circumvent these discussions and move away the ownership of the institution by the public servants to the banks. This is a complete disregard and attack on collective bargaining.
What SADTU has noted in the budget speech is its silence on the issue of land. We emphasise that no radical economic transformation can take place if people do not have the land. Our economy has failed dismally to create more jobs .The land must be handed over to the owners being the majority Black so that we can grow an economy that will allow our people asking part in the economy.
This budget speech has taken place amid slow economic growth, a phenomenon which has been with us since 2008 and nothing radical has been done to bring change. We welcome the introduction of the tax bracket for high income earners which will see 45% tax for those with taxable incomes above R1, 5 million per annum. This we welcome and believe it is long overdue.
We welcome the fact that education, health services and municipal functions remain the central thrust of the budget.
Whereas the budget increases, the concern remains as to where the money really goes; to pockets of business people or to improve and creating conducive environments at our schools?
Education continues to attract the bigger slice of the budget - 17, 5% which is over R240 billion. We sincerely hope that the increase by 12, 5% per year for school buildings, will bring to an end to mud schools and provide proper sanitation to our schools.
We also welcome the fact that spending on learning and teaching support material will increase by 9, 5% over the next three years. We hope this will bring to an end, incidents like in the Limpopo province where schools did not have these materials when schools opened in January.
Although the Minister spoke of increasing funding for education and particularly the quality of basic literacy and numeracy in the first phase of schooling, he didn't attach numbers to this.
Instead, he attached numbers to higher education. In addition to the R32 billion allocated to higher education in the 2016 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, a further R5 billion has been added.
Investing in basic education is crucial for improved outcomes in higher education. Government should plan properly instead of being on a crisis mode. We want to see figures attached to this and not lip service.
We welcome the fact that there will be no increase in VAT. However, we believe that the 30c per litre increase in the fuel levy and 9c per litre of petrol and diesel for the road accident fund will have an adverse effect on the poor as
we know that everything will increase due to rise in transport costs.
We welcome the announcement that there will be consultations with stakeholders over the period ahead on the reform of the medical scheme environment, including consolidation of public sector funds.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157