All eyes on Pravin

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will deliver his much awaited budget speech for 2013.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's business sector said ion Tuesday it wants reassurance and clarity from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan when he delivers his budget on Wednesday.

Firms also want to know how government's infrastructure plan and the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme will be funded.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa)'s Raymond Parsons said the Minister must ensure the country's finances do not get out of control.

"We must try and send out the message that we are going to keep our fiscal house in order, even under very difficult circumstances."

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci)'s Neren Rau said they wanted to know what exactly was meant by a review of the tax system

"The current tax base is under enormous pressure and is unable to sustain or endure greater pressures."

Rau also spoke about the need to look at stimulating greater economic growth activities that would provide tax relief.

Businesses also wanted to know more about what incentives would be used to encourage them to hire young people.

2012 BUDGET

In his budget speech in 2012, Gordhan spoke of South Africa's economic position, amidst uncertainties in the world economy, with the recession still having a hold on the country.

The Minister spoke of a projected budget deficit of 4.6% for the 2012/13 financial year, with the goal of reaching 3% in 2014/15.

The head of the National Treasury also spoke about spending reaching R1.1 trillion this year, which is almost a third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

His 2012 budget speech also provided for a personal income tax relief of R9.5 billion, but some analysts said this might not be the case this year.

NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME

Another issue that will be expected to be fleshed out a bit more, will be the NHI and its funding.

In 2012, the Minister said the system is to be phased in over a 14-year period beginning in 2012/13.

Gordhan said the NHI would provide equitable health coverage for all South Africans, but also that it would need funding over and above the current budget.

A discussion paper on the NHI was to be released by the end of April 2012 to discuss the funding proposals that might be there, for the implementation of the NHI system.