This year’s budget speech promises to be more interesting than any other year. National important issues like drought, higher education student funding, youth, imminent inflation, food security, rural youth development, job creation and entrepreneurship stimulation are some of many that will create interest of many young people in this year’s national budget speech.
For the very first time the Finance Minister has ?invited the public to voice their views on the economy and what issues they would like government to highlight in his Budget Speech?. In a statement that was published on government online platform “SA News” the Minister challenged ordinary citizens to submit their views on the three areas that government spending should be directed to, as well as how South Africa can achieve inclusive economic growth. “It is in this context that the Minister of Finance invites South Africans to voice their views about their economic concerns and issues they would like government to highlight in the Budget on 24 February 2016,” said Ministry of Finance.
Activators might not have submitted their views directly to National Treasury via the above mentioned platforms but they have made their voices heard in different platforms.
Insufficient tertiary funding was a big issue in South Africa last year. Most tertiary education students, members of Fees Must Fall Campaign and other concerned people are expecting to hear government’s clear plans on how much money is set aside to address the insufficient tertiary funding. Africa’s oldest university, Fort Hare University is one many universities that have always been underfunded. Student leader and social change driver from Fort University Isasiphinkosi Mdingi believe that the 2016 budget speech is one of the most important tool or documents to mostly university students who have “been ducking bullets all in pursuit of free education. “I am sure by now everyone know that for a very long time, National Student Financial Aid Scheme has systematically excluding children of the working class parents, therefore the 2016 national government budget is very important to us as student. It is one of many ways forward information document that all our academic financial support concerns. I hope Minister Gordhan will explain how Treasury is going to raise funds that will once and for all make the elusive free education dream become a reality to poor students.”
R7 billion was allocated to support agricultural development. Access to finance for emerging farmers was also expanded in collaboration with the Land Bank. That didn’t do much to avert the ongoing drought that is hitting South Africa right now. Free State based Small scale farmer and social change driver Innocentia Maine said South Africa needs innovative ways of dealing with drought. According to Maine, National Treasury cannot fix current problems by just pump huge amounts of money but rather form partnerships with key agriculture and farming stakeholders “We are not always looking for funding, but we do not need the money to be used on programs that will equip us. As small scale farmers, we want access to the markets. So, in my view one of the best things that government can do is to look at alternative support mechanisms like assisting farmers to build more boreholes and many other efficient ways crop farmers could use when such weather conditions strikes again.” said Maine.
“Besides that, Finance Ministry and all government departments must start working on a long term sustainable strategy for the country. They might as well look into how much land we have, how is it used and how they can better help those who love the field but have not got access to land. Build infrastructure on state land, rent it out and provide them with enough training to make their businesses a success. “she emphases
To address unemployment, last year the treasury allocated R4 billion to Jobs Fund. To stimulate entrepreneurship culture, the Department of Finance allocated R3.5 billion on mentoring and training support for small businesses. During his State of the Nation Address President Jacob Zuma said government will invest more on youth development projects. Most young people applauded government’s decision but some of them also believe that national government budget allocation alone is not the only solution the countries leadership can do to combat poverty, unemployment and accelerate youth self- sustainability through entrepreneurship.
A Johannesburg based entrepreneur and social change driver Herbert Njabulo Sibanda besides telling the nation how much money is allocated to who, Minister Gordhan’s bigger task is to give an honest overall report on how government is planning to remove red tape that discourage most emerging entrepreneurs. “I am sure any emerging entrepreneur like myself would agree with me that 2016 Budget Speech is very importance. SMME funding information, limiting business legislation, access to bigger market and resources are some of huge challenges for most of us as entrepreneurs. So besides big amount allocation announcement to different departments, I would like Finance Minister to share more government solution driven decision on these issues.”
Adequate funds allocation to address rural youth development was one issue that kept on coming up from a number of social change drivers. One of those activators who raised the issue is Qunu Youth Development Project co-founder Phikolomzi Habe. “I would like the minister to allocate budget in small young people’s business especially in deep non-remote rural areas because when budget speech is done young people that are living in non-remote rural areas are less fortunate to access the funding for their businesses. I also would like the minister to allocate budget on youth empowerment and skills development.” said Habe
Prominent political analyst Somadoda Fikeni believes that this year’s budget speech content will be more directed to issues that appeal. Fikeni said that even though big numbers allocation might excites youth and various interest groups, South Africans should remember that government implementation slow pace and corruption might once again stifled the real progress. “Surely issues like tertiary education funding, job creation, enterprise development and many other issues that are off interest to youth will be among the prominent issues that will feature in Minister Pravin Gordhan budget speech on Wednesday. One thing that I don’t think young people will like to hear from the Minister Gordhan is that the issue of free higher education will not be sorted immediately. Only time will tell how the tertiary will students will respond to that. The fact that South Africa economic growth does not look like there will be enough jobs created or opportunities for new youth development might also frustrate some young people. So in essence I expect national budget speech as usual might paint a predominant very youth focus agenda.”
Economist Tshegofatso Ramatlo believes that 2016 Budget Speech is coming at a critical time for all South Africans. According to Ramatlo Minister Gordhan’s Budget Speech has to redeem South Africa from 2015’s sluggish economic growth which was caused by lower growth in China, local political instability and questionable leadership have contributed to the uncertainty. “With expected growth levels at less than 1% for 2016, the government needs to be very cautious with their moves. I expect the budget speech to give a more concrete plan about how confidence in the country will be restored. Young people are seeking financial inclusion and I expect the minister to tell us how he will be creating jobs and promoting the growth of small businesses.”
Ramatlo went on to say what makes Budget Speech 2016 is more important to young people than any other past Budget Speech before is that during his State of the Nation Address President Zuma acknowledged that the country needed to employ a new approach to stabilizing the economy but said very little about the plan for job creation, access to free education and young people’s last hope to have clear way forward solely depend on those pertinent issues
Minister Gordhan As usual, the Budget Speech will be delivered at the Parliament’s National Assembly and it will be broadcasted live on Parliament Channel, SABC News, ENCA, ANN7, Aljazeera and many national and international radio stations. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers media partner Live Mag will also be updating the public live from Parliament.
The official Twitter handle for the Budget is: #Budget2016. What would you like Minister Pravin Gordhan Budge to focus on? Tell us @ActivateZA.