2013 Budget on the right track - Gordhan

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pretoria - South Africans’ general acceptance of this year’s budget indicates that government has made many correct decisions, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday.

“I’m feeling great because South Africans are happy about the budget. We are encouraged by the feedback we’ve had,” said Gordhan in a televised SABC/New Age breakfast briefing on Thursday morning.

Gordhan was speaking a day after tabling the country’s R1.060-trillion national budget before Parliament.

“It means that as government, we’ve done and taken many of the right decisions for now.  We hope that the confidence this will bring in the public domain will translate into better growth prospects in this country,” said Gordhan.

The budget, the minister said, had been tough to draw up, given that the country was in a tough phase due to the events in the global economy having an impact on South Africa as well.

“We lost about R60 billion of revenue [as a result of the financial crunch]. We are now trying to recover. We’ve recovered reasonably but many of our peers have done better. The challenge is, how do we better ourselves?” said Gordhan.

The minister appealed to individuals who owed tax to make their respective payments.

“That will help us reduce our deficit,” he said.

The focus was now on growing the economy and creating jobs.

Government would not be raising taxes, a move he referred to as “generous on the part of government”.  These were the issues that would be looked at in the tax review.

“Once we’re ready, we will take notice of whether we are going to carry on in the current track… We will have a better idea in six months’ time,” he said.

The minster called on South Africans to understand the challenges facing the country.

“In the South African context, unless we all pull together , all of us understanding our roles and responsibilities , we are not going to meet the challenges we have.”

On the issue of high fuel costs, the minister said this could be partly attributed to the high price of oil as well as the impact of the weaker rand.

Oil has been in the region of $110 to $118 a barrel for a considerable period, which Gordhan said was extraordinarily high.

For various reasons, the rand has been fluctuating between R8.50 and R9 for the last couple of years.

“The weaker the rand, the more expensive imports to South Africa are. We import all our oil so it’s a double whammy,” Gordhan said.

The budget tabled on Wednesday noted that there will be an increase in fuel costs in April. - SAnews.gov.za