The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) are gearing up for Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech on Wednesday with a list of major concerns which they believe Mboweni must prioritise.
The EFF has called on Mboweni to present a “people’s development-oriented” budget speech, which they say must include an announcement that pension and social grants will be doubled.
In a nine-point plan, the Red Berets are also applying pressure on Mboweni to revert the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate back to 14%, instead of the 15% where it currently stands. The party said corporate income tax should instead be increased.
“It is time companies make a fair contribution instead of being subsidised by workers and poor people,” the EFF said in a statement on Tuesday.
Eskom will be a major issue Mboweni is expected to address in his speech. The power utility — which President Cyril Ramaphosa said will be restructured — has been undergoing a sharp decline that is partly believed to have resulted in nationwide load-shedding at the beginning of February. The loadshedding also coincided with Ramaphosa’s announcement that Eskom would be unbundled, leading to suspicion from critics that the blackouts were a strategic response to the restructuring.
For the EFF, Eskom’s financial troubles can be partly blamed purchasing power agreements signed with Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The EFF has called on the agreements to be cancelled, because of losses Eskom was incurring.
“Now Eskom debt has increased to more than R450 billion,” the EFF said.
The DA, meanwhile, is calling on Mboweni to present a plan to increase South Africa’s economic growth to an “average of at least 3%”.
“The Minister should announce a package of structural reforms designed to boost investor confidence, and consumer confidence, and therefore private sector investment,” Alf Lees, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, said on Tuesday.
State-owned enterprises must also be addressed, Lees said, especially Eskom’s financial crisis.
“In the end there is now no escaping massive bailouts in some form to save Eskom financially, and South Africans will once again be forced to pay for the wrongdoings of the ANC,” he said.
Mboweni will present his budget speech on Wednesday in Parliament.