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Afrique du Sud
People’s Budget coalition response to the National Budget
10 February 2009
People’s Budget Coalition (PBC) -
The Peoples Budget Coalition (PBC) is a civil society campaign that brings together COSATU, SANGOCO and the SACC around budget and development issues. 2009 marks the 10th Anniversary of the People’s Budget Coalition and its tireless call for better fiscal policies and development approaches that can improve the living conditions of all South Africans.
As we enter the 10th year of assiduous efforts in persuading the government to listen to our plight, we reiterate the significance of ensuring that revenue is directed towards appropriate spending priorities that actually work to effectively eradicate poverty and unemployment while simultaneously supporting economic development.
Again, 2009 is remarkable in that it sees South Africa’s fourth democratic elections and for the first time in 15 years, the ANC government has developed an extremely inclusivity manifesto that speaks to the real needs of the people. As PBC we welcome such a stance and in our expectations statement, draw from the following manifesto’s key areas of priority which the ANC government has undertaken to deliver on in the next five years.
The People’s budget remains deeply concerned that the high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality in wealth and opportunities in South Africa remains a challenge. Our society continues to be characterized by deep structural divisions along racial, gender and class lines. Within this context, the PBC expects the government to deliver a people-centred budget that will realistically connect economic programmes and developmental priorities. In the context of the current global economic crisis, the PBC further expects the minister to ensure that the allocation of resources continues to prioritise our development challenges such as industrial policy, decent jobs and social security, amongst others.
On education for example, the ANC manifesto rightly points out that education is a means of promoting good citizenship as it prepares people, and the youth specifically, for the needs of a modern economy. Unfortunately as of now, education remains one of the most expensive investments with the least returns due to the inability to streamline curriculum so as to better skill young people and enhance their employability. In light of educational disparities, the People’s budget calls for the state to pay special attention to struggling schools in budget allocation and ensure that there is adequate and proper investment in teacher training so as to deliver quality education.
The PBC further reiterates its call for the introduction of a Basic Income Grant to be given to all South Africans. In this vein, we expect the Minister to implement the child support grant to 18 years immediately. In addition, the PBC expects the Minister to increase social grants above inflation considering the high cost of food. While we remain opposed to the means test, we believe it has to be adjusted for inflation. Government currently provides free basic water and electricity and it is our expectation that the amount be increased from the current 6kl for water and 50kWh for electricity. We further expect finalisation of the discussion on a comprehensive social security system in the next financial year.
It is common in our society that the quality of the new jobs being created is extremely worrisome from the perspectives of employment being a route out of poverty; hence the PBC believes that decent work and women empowerment should be prioritized, particularly within the context of a global economic downturn that provides a major obstacle to not only retaining existing jobs but also to creating new ones. Of the new jobs being created, wages remain extremely low with the majority of workers earning less than R2500-00 per month. We are faced with a national crisis where the majority of the unemployed are our young people and women. To this day, South Africa’s young people and women remain the least of economically active people some of whom had never been employed. South African women continue to occupy precarious forms of employment within the context of the feminisation of formal sector jobs rendering them vulnerable.
The PBC will issue a further statement after the budget speech.
For further information please phone:
Desmond Lesejane, SA Council of Churches, on 011 833 1190 or 084 581 6306
Brian Mazibuko, SA NGO Coalition, on 083 617 3100
Patrick Craven, COSATU, on 082821 7456
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