Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivering his Budget Speech. (Roger Bosch, AFP)
Cape Town – The "tough budget" Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba tabled on Wednesday was to ensure a better life for future generations.
Gigaba, his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi and Treasury's top officials briefed a joint meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, Standing Committee on Appropriations, Select Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Appropriations on Thursday.
He said apart from balancing government's books, they also wanted this budget to support the radical socio-economic agenda.
He said "slow growth and stubborn poverty" remained challenges.
"The question we had to ask was, 'what if we don't stabilise this debt'?"
He said Treasury decided to deal with it now and not pass it on to future generations.
Tough budget 'brings hope'
He said the department had to find ways to deal with the debt, "as painful as they might be".
Gigaba said if the debt was not stabilised, South Africa would have to sacrifice its sovereignty, as international organisations would decide "what type of diet they must put us on" and how strict this "diet" would be.
"No matter how difficult the immediate challenges are, we know the future will be much better," said Gigaba.
"That's why I said it is a tough budget, but it brings hope."
Treasury director general Dondo Mogajane said that after Gigaba's Budget Speech, Treasury officials skipped the cocktail parties to talk to the three main rating agencies – Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's.
READ: Ratings firms `positive' on SA Budget, Treasury says
"The preliminary view is that we did well," he said.
Some members of the committee questioned whether the budget was indeed pro-poor.
Gigaba defended the budget.
"We ought to not be populist in the decisions we make," he said. "Populist budgeting's effects will be felt worse by the poor."
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