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Whilst complementing the Minister on his professional presentation of the budget speech, something all South Africans can be proud of, the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) values Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech in Parliament yesterday more in terms of what he did not say as well as thinly disguised messages.

‘We understand that it is not for the Minister of Finance to make policy and that the budget is simply a reflection of government policy. Although the Minister said that ‘bold steps’ need to be taken in order to leave behind poverty, inequality and unemployment, there was nothing in his speech that reflected a bold policy change by government to achieve any of these ideals,’ says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CEO.

It is quite meaningful that the Minister refers to the Freedom Charter as a fundamental approach to achieving higher growth, decent work and less inequality.

‘It is clear that the state wants to achieve economic growth and employment through a big and expensive government, maximum intervention in all spheres of society, including business and to follow a philosophy of reshaping South Africa on all levels,’ Papenfus says. 

There can be no doubt that business will respond negatively to this approach by government. This policy will in fact not stimulate growth, it will not create jobs in the long run and it will in fact lead to increased inequality. 

‘Unless government creates a much more deregulated business environment, especially with respect to SMME’s, and unless business get the message that they’re indeed welcome and can invest with confidence, we are not going to create jobs. If a vibrant private sector is not going to create jobs, no jobs will be created. Merely saying that the private sector is important is not good enough; government’s actions should illustrate that they indeed understand the importance of the private sector and that they understand what creates a vibrant private sector,’ he says.

Appointing more people in an ever-expanding and often unproductive government and so-called jobs created by Public Works Programmes, is not real job creation. 

‘The private sector and real entrepreneurs do not ask for money; we are only asking for our hands to be untied so that we can go on with our business without constant interference in order to produce the results South Africa so desperately need,’ Papenfus says. 

The amount of money that government throws at state departments and social projects sounds impressive. Education for instance receives a huge portion of the budget. What they do with all this money is, however, not so impressive. As far as education is concerned, government has failed the youth and South Africa. Only throwing money after education does not solve the problem. A new attitude of disciplined hard work and personal responsibility will.  This is the new message and example from government that is so desperately needed. 

For more information:

Sya van der Walt-Potgieter

Media Liaison

082 332 9512