Mini budget 2017: Three elephants in the room

2017-10-15 06:00 - Lesetja Malope
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Johannesburg - These are the three elephants in the room that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba will face when he delivers his mini budget speech in October.

1. Nuclear

Players in the nuclear sector are looking for funding for the proposed new build programme and policy certainty from the mini budget.

Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) CEO Phumzile Tshelane said the company had asked for extra funding for its nuclear research and nuclear new build programme.

“Necsa is optimistic that Treasury will allocate funding to enable it to effectively fulfil its role in SA’s new build programme.”

Nuclear Industry Association of SA managing director Knox Msebenzi said they wanted clarity on government’s policy direction for the industry.

“We would like to see clear commitment with clear timelines,” he said.


2. Wages and unions

The 2017 budget made provision for a 7% hike in government wages next year to R588.7 billion, followed by a 7.2% hike in 2019 to R631.1 billion.

Neva Makgetla, senior economist at research organisation Trade and Industry Policy Strategies, said the mini budget usually made provision for inflation. However, that did not hold before government went to the negotiating table with the unions.

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George said the union federation expected the minister to set the agenda.

The public sector tabled a demand for a 12% wage hike. The first meeting of government and union wage negotiators would be on October 20. Unions want discussions concluded by the end of November.

3. NHI

The medical sector is hoping the mini budget will ensure more funding for the various workstreams of the National Health Insurance (NHI) in the 2018 budget.

SA Medical Association spokesperson Mark Sonderup said they were looking for adequate funding to be allocated to these workstreams.

“They are like the tentacles of this one big animal and if we get that right, we will be on the right path,” he said. 

Director of consulting firm Econex Marine Erasmus hoped Treasury would reallocate resources towards the various workstreams and to research related to the NHI.

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