#BudgetSpeech: 'Govt has a duty to reward taxpayers'

Gordhan delivered a budget that will cut government spending by R25 billion over the next three years.

"Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivering his national Budget speech in Parliament on 24 February 2016. Picture GCIS.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's moved to restore confidence in the ailing South African economy among cash-strapped citizens as well as investors, in SA and abroad.

Taxpayers can heave a sigh of relief as his budget contains no shock income tax hikes as was widely expected.

He's also found money to help pensioners and those on social grants to keep pace with inflation with nearly R6 billion to meet the university fees shortfall.

He's given citizens hope by holding off on vat or income tax increases - though there'll be some pain through hikes in the fuel levy, a new tyre levy and a tax on sugar-laden drinks.

The minister says the government has a duty to reward taxpayers by improving the impact of each rand spent and to eliminate waste and corruption.

"We have also been mindful of the need to moderate the impact of tax increases on households and firms in present economic Context."

While acknowledging the tough times, Gordhan's insisting the economy's able to bounce back if there's bold leadership and people work together.

Gordhan tried to cut through the doom and gloom over the economy.

"I have a simple message from government - we are strong enough, resilient enough and creative enough to overcome our economic challenges."

He says business' appeals for policy certainty have been heard; that they're engaging with labour over a minimum wage and youth employment and responding to communities protesting over a lack of services.

The minister says slashing the state's bloated wage bill won't cost the jobs of frontline workers like police, teachers and nurses.

Money from cutting government spending will fund the university fees shortfall, small business development and drought relief.


The finance minister said his budget was about prioritisation and stopping wasteful expenditure while promoting growth.

WATCH: The budget in 60 seconds.

Gordhan says government has a plan.

"Low growth, high unemployment, extreme inequality and hurtful factors in our society, these are all unacceptable to all of us. I have a simple message from government: we are strong enough, resilient enough and creative enough to create to manage and overcome our economic challenges."

He says growth for this year stands at 0,9 percent and the momentum of growth needs to increase.

"It means being bold where there is a need for structural change, innovation and doing things differently, above all we need agility and urgency in implementing plans."

The minister says there will be talks on a minimum wage.

"We're responding to appeals from the business sector for greater certainty in policies that affect investment decisions. We are engaging with proposals from organised labour for a minimum wage policy and for progress on opportunities for young people."

The rand took a beating during the budget speech, it went from around R15, 26 to the dollar at 1pm to R15.50.