Holding the centre

2008-10-23 00:00

Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel assured the nation in his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) in Parliament this week that South Africa remains essentially stable despite the devastating effects of the financial and economic turmoil in the United States and Europe. This is a tribute to the combination of boldness and caution that he has displayed in the national treasury. He made the point that if the government’s economic policies had been populist and short-term, the country would now be facing the prospect of long-term misery. Instead, he has taken the long view and created the financial ballast needed to ride out the storm now.

It is true that in South African society generally the rich have tended to become richer and the poor poorer. This does not mean that aid has been withheld from the poor. On the contrary, a large slice of the annual budget has been spent on social grants while job creation has also been a feature of the government’s best intentions. This week’s MTBPS announced a modest increase of R20 a month in all grants in order to help counter the current escalation in the price of food. Over all, despite alarming global trends, Manuel plans to spend an extra R170,8 billion during the next three years. Greater consideration will need to be given to the reduction of poverty which remains a serious blot on the socio-economic landscape.

The finance minister walks a tightrope, balancing fiscal discipline with the creation of a more equitable society. There are prominent voices in the African National Congress and its alliance which are pressing for a faster and more vigorous emphasis on social spending. With the imminent recession in the world economy, growth rates will be slower, as Manuel has been quick to point out. In such a climate rash decisions, no matter how commendable in principle, will be very unwise. The fact that President Kgalema Motlanthe decided to retain the services of Manuel in his cabinet is a clear indication that he wants policies to stay on track.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.