Name a new SARS commissioner, reduce Cabinet size – DA's tips to Mboweni

2019-02-20 11:36 - Lameez Omarjee
Tito Mboweni, South African Minister of Finance wa
Tito Mboweni, South African Minister of Finance walks with members of the Finance Ministry up Government Avenue to deliver his medium-term budget speech on October 24, 2018. (RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images) ~ AFP

The DA wants Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to name a new "credible" commissioner of the South African Revenue Services when he announces the National Budget on Wednesday.

DA MPs Alf Lees and Gwen Ngwenya held a briefing at Parliament on Tuesday, where they shared the opposition party's expectations for the Budget.

Among the list of challenges for Mboweni to tackle are weak economic growth, the revenue shortfall, cost containment measures, national debt and challenged state-owned enterprises.

SOEs would likely dominate the Budget, according to Lees. "The biggest risk at this stage is Eskom and its mountain of debt," he said.

The DA expects government to extend a part bailout by doing a debt equity swap for about R100bn, which would be the "biggest bailout in SA's history," Lees noted.

Another option is for the country to take on Eskom's debt service obligations, and not the actual debt itself, he said. "In the end there is now no escaping massive bailouts in some form to save Eskom financially."

Among the cost containment measures suggested by the DA would be to limit increases in expenditure to be in line with inflation; reduce the size of Cabinet by 20 ministries; and block incoming ministers from buying new cars and office furniture, and upgrading ministerial houses.

SA had 16 ministries in 1996, which later increased to 35, with 37 deputy ministers. Ahead of the 2018 Budget, the DA claimed that cutting the number of ministries could save SA almost R5bn.

Other cost-cutting suggestions include selling off non-core assets, like Telkom.

Policy changes

The DA also wants to hear a plan to boost economic growth. "To boost economic growth and create jobs it requires a fundamental change in economic policy in South Africa. That is why South Africa needs a 'policy shock'.

"The minister should announce a package of structural reforms designed to boost investor confidence and consumer confidence, and therefore private sector investment," Lees said.

"There has to be a new mindset that prioritises economic growth and job creation in the forefront of all policy formulation," he said.

Mboweni will table the Budget in Parliament at 14:00 on Wednesday.