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Gordhan to deliver medium-term budget

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will deliver his medium-term budget statement on Thursday.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is seen at a news conference in Johannesburg on 23 July 2012 on local government audit outcomes. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will deliver his medium-term budget statement on Thursday afternoon.

Gauteng motorists are eager to see if Gordhan will make any announcement on e-tolling, while the nation is anticipating what the minister will say about the state of South Africa's troubled economy.

Government is expected to confirm the roll out of tolling in Gauteng either during Gordhan's speech in Parliament or during post-cabinet briefing on Friday.

Eyewitness News on Wednesday reported that the interministerial task team on e-tolls met with cabinet and recommended tolling be implemented.

It is understood e-tolls could be rolled out before the end of the year, while a North Gauteng High Court review of the system is scheduled to take place on 26 November.

Apart from e-tolls, it is hoped the minister will allay fears amid a troubled economy reeling from various wildcat strikes in the mining and transport sectors and ratings agency downgrades.

Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt said citizens should not expect too much from Gordhan's speech.

"The purpose of the medium-term budget is for the minister to update us on what is going on in the economy, on his revenue figures, spending numbers."

He said leadership was needed following the downgrades by the two ratings agencies.

Meanwhile, Investment Solutions' managing director Derrick Msibi said the minister needed to give clarity on government spending.

He said he did not expect any surprises, but for Gordhan to affirm and produce data that reflected that the country's financials were robust.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry it was also hoping for a hard hitting medium term budget policy statement.

Many observers hope he will tackle tough issues like taxes and investor confidence.

The chamber's Michael Bagraim said the speech comes at a difficult time for the country.

"I think it's important for the minister to have a look at the real underlying issues in South Africa today, such as our mining environment and the massive strikes we're experiencing."

OPPOSITION PARTIES

Meanwhile, opposition Member of Parliament (MPs) said they want to know what Gordhan plans to do, to promote economic growth and foreign investment.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini said the minister should focus on growing the economy.

"And embracing the harsh measures which need to be put in place now to create a viable economic basis and promote economic growth.

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) Tim Harris said the minister has a chance to steady the ship.

He said steps should be introduced to reign in irregular and wasteful spending.

Harris would like Gordhan to use his speech to reassure investors that South Africa is a good place to do business.

He said that a recent United Nations report showed that foreign direct investment in the country is on the decline.

"The most important thing that the UN Global Investment Trends Monitor shows is that foreign direct investment inflows in South Africa decline by 43 percent in the past year.

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) is also concerned about foreign investment.