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Nene: SA’s finances at a turning point

Nhlanhla Nene has warned South Africans have to tighten their belts to help get the country back on track.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene has given a sombre assessment of the state of the country's finances in Parliament today.

Delivering his Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament this afternoon, Nene warned that the country is at a turning point.

That means South Africans are going to have to tighten their belts to help get the country back on track.

Delivering his mid-term budget policy statement, he announced moves to curb government spending and raise billions in extra revenue which means taxpayers will have to fork out more.

The finance minister says the government will n eed about R30 billion in extra revenue over the next two years and he'll be looking at taxes to raise it.

"Details will be announced in the 2015 budget."

Nene says the country has to change course.

"The 2015 budget shows there needs to be a change if the economic outlook were to worsen. We have reached that turning point."

Nene says the country's currently in debt to the tune of R153 billion and has slashed the economic growth forecast by half to 1.4 percent.

He says the current direction of the country's finances will not create jobs or grow the economy.

"We are not making enough progress in raising incomes or reducing poverty. Far too many people are unemployed."

Earlier, Nene promised money to fight Ebola.

"R32.6 million for the Department of Health for Ebola control and prevention measures including support for the affected countries."

he minister says three priority spending areas have been targeted to ensure public spending promotes substantial growth.

He says an environment for greater private sector investment has to be created.

"We will support cities to improve living conditions, modernise communications and transport infrastructure and expand the urban economy."

At the same time, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has reiterated her office will not be able to function properly if it's not granted adequate funding.

Madonsela presented her office's 2013/2014 annual financial report to Parliament's Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee.

She says her office is technically insolvent.

The public protector says Parliament and treasury are refusing to make available funding which is needed to employ more staff.

Madonsela argued there are currently more than 300 investigators handling nearly 40,000 cases during the past financial year.

She added that of those only about 25,000 have been finalised, a sign her office can't cope with the immense pressure that comes with a heavy caseload.

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