The East London Border-Kei Chamber of Business (BKCOB) has praised Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget, delivered in Cape Town on Wednesday, but remained concerned about some aspects.
Gordhan allocated R52bn, of the R362.4bn distributed to the provinces, to the Eastern Cape.
BKCOB CEO Les Holbrook welcomed the allocation of R7bn for subsistence farmers. “Concessions for small business are welcomed, but further clarity is required,” Holbrook said.
Holbrook said he is concerned about the restructuring of small business corporations and the “continuing shift of passing social welfare onto the employer, referring specifically to mandatory retirement savings.”
He said uncertainty still surrounding the National Health Insurance (NHI) funding. “The most clarity is that pilot projects will be implemented,” Holbrook said.
Gordhan said NHI pilot districts have been established in every province, supported by funding for NHI as a conditional grant.
“In addition to hospital and clinic building and refurbishment programmes, R1.2bn has been allocated for piloting general practitioners’ contracts,” he said.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler said infrastructure spend must be distributed wisely, with the future sustainability of the country in mind.
“It is imperative that South Africa builds its attractiveness to foreign direct investment. It must also remain attractive to local investors,” said Hustler.
Gordhan said the budget lays the foundations for the structural reforms envisaged over the next term of the government.
“It sets out the resource plan for an intensified implementation of our National Development Plan. It is tabled in the knowledge that all South Africans will gain from our economic transformation, just as we all share a new pride and identity in our Constitutional democracy,” the minister said.
He said spending on infrastructure amounted to R1 trillion over the past five years and will be R847bn over the next three.
Gordhan said the lives of many South Africans have changed for the better since 1994.
“The average income of South Africans has increased by more than 30% and will continue to rise in the years ahead. More than 5.9 million jobs have been created since 1996,” said the minister.