Jobless South Africans left out in the cold by 2024 Budget

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers the 2024 Budget Speech. Picture: GCIS/GovernmentZA

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers the 2024 Budget Speech. Picture: GCIS/GovernmentZA

Published Feb 22, 2024


More than 40% of unemployed people were left out of the 2024 Budget speech as Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana ignored the plight of those seeking jobs in the country.

Godongwana yesterday allocated less than 1% (R22.2 billion) of the country’s Budget for job creation, leaving out more than 11 million people who didn’t have jobs.

Also to bear the brunt were South African citizens who drink and smoke, who will have to fork out more money from their pockets to satisfy their habits, but old age pensioners will laugh all the way to the bank.

Government debt will stabilise over the next three years as a result of R150bn injection from the South African Reserve Bank’s Gold and Foreign Exchange Contingency Reserve Account that will be used to pay it off.

To combat load shedding, the government will promote further investments in renewable energy.

Godongwana had his audience cheering when he announced that the old age grant would be increased by R100; however, there were a number of jeers when he announced steep increases in the sin tax.

He gave an example of an elderly lady having scolded him for having increased the old age grant by a mere R20 last year.

“An increase of R100 to the old age, war veterans, disability and care dependency grants. This amount will be divided into R90 effective from April, and R10 effective October 2024… a R50 increase to the foster care grant and a R20 increase to the child support grant,” he announced.

When it came to the sin tax, Godongwana did not mince his words, saying the weak performance of the South African economy had resulted in a “sharp” deterioration in tax revenue collection for 2023/24, but had put in measures to raise it.

“This budget contains tax measures that will raise R15bn in 2024/25 to alleviate immediate fiscal pressure and support faster debt stabilisation. Revenue is mostly raised through personal income tax by not adjusting the tax brackets, rebates and medical tax credit for inflation.

“For alcohol products excise duties, above-inflation increases of between 6.7 and 7.2% for 2024/25 are proposed,” he said.

Godongwana announced that a can of beer increases by 14 cents; a can of a cider and alcoholic fruit beverage goes up by 14 cents; a bottle of wine will cost an extra 28 cents; a bottle of fortified wine will cost an extra 47 cents; a bottle of sparkling wine will cost an extra 89 cents; a bottle of spirits, including whisky, gin or vodka, increases by R5.53.

“We also propose to increase tobacco excise duties by 4.7% for cigarettes and cigarette tobacco, and by 8.2% for pipe tobacco and cigars. This translates to a R9.51 cents increase for cigars, 97 cents increase to a pack of cigarettes and an extra 57 cents for a pipe of tobacco,” he said.

He, however, also announced a relief in the fuel levy putting R4bn back into the pockets of consumers.

“We are mindful of the already high cost of living and the impact fuel prices have on food and transport costs. In this regard, we are proposing no increases to the general fuel levy for 2024/25,” he said.

He conceded that load shedding was a problem that confronted all South Africans.

“It disrupts production, operations and livelihoods. Reforming the sector will result in long-term energy security. We made the necessary decisions in the past five years and these are bearing fruit. To promote further investments in renewable energy, this budget proposes an increase in the limit for renewable energy projects that can qualify for the carbon offsets regime, from 15 megawatts to 30MW,” he said.

Opposition parties criticised Godongwana for ignoring the jobless.

Build One SA’s Graham Charters said the finance minister failed to redirect the government’s spending intentions towards job creation and economic growth.

“Instead of addressing unemployment with seriousness, the ANC government used their last budget before they are removed from office later this year to continue out-of-control spending on debt, bailouts and a bloated and inefficient state,” Charters said.

Freedom Front Plus’s Wouter Wessels said: “This is surely the most disturbing budget tabled in the last 30 years. It appears that the ANC has realised it is on its way out and it no longer cares about how deep in the quagmire it leaves the country.”

The Star

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