Cape Town – The DA criticised Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s Budget Speech on Wednesday for "hammering the poor" and increasing taxes.
The DA’s deputy shadow minister of finance, Alf Lees, said the increase in taxes as announced by Gigaba was "symptomatic of an ANC government which has failed to plan ahead and make the necessary cost-cutting measures to shield ordinary citizens from poverty".
"The announcements made today (Wednesday) are nothing less than a massive body blow to poor South Africans. They will dampen economic growth and fail to create much-needed jobs," said Lees.
He said the VAT increase of one percentage point was "a smack in the face for millions of South Africans who face a daily battle to put food on the table".
"Instead of taking decisive action to cut wasteful expenditure and trim the fat, the Minister has introduced proposals for cost-cutting that will only reduce service delivery," he said.
Lees identified the reduction of provincial budgets, the reduction of provincial conditional grants, specifically with Human Settlements and Education infrastructure, and the reduction of local government grants as issues.
"The choice to cut funding for building schools and employing police officers will only put the futures and safety of our people at risk and is a terrible trade-off," he said.
"Instead of stabilising the national debt levels, they will continue to rise to R 3.3 trillion over the next three years and debt service costs will amount to R 592bn over the medium term," Lees said.
Gigaba has failed "to cut the fat" and has instead opted to protect a handful of individuals by reaching "into the pockets of poor South Africans to cover the cost". * Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER