South Africa's Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivered his maiden budget yesterday. It was expected to be a tough budget by many pundits and it certainly delivered on that sentiment. We know that in order for South Africa to achieve positive economic growth Government is going to have to be tougher on state-owned enterprises. This was a central theme for the Minster and he was very clear about the effect these SOE's have on our economy.
What was reassuring was the Minister's clear focus on rebuilding a stagnating economy. "It is all of our duty to tend the seed and see that it grows strong, tall and fruitful. It is a budget for the future,” he explained.
The past few months consumers have experienced serious financial pressures as costs continue to rise and bleak economic trends affect the activity in most major sectors. Property was one of those markets that certainly felt the knock-on effects.
The budget, although far more balanced and focused on renewal and growth, it was disappointing that no pressures were relieved on consumers in the property market. The property market is incredibly susceptible to the message and plans in the Budget and how they are instituted.
As predicted VAT remained unchanged at 15% and there was no an increase in personal and corporate income tax. However, the Minister revealed that there would be an increase in fuel levies. Petrol: 29c per litre and Diesel: 30c per litre. In addition, it is expected that real GDP growth in 2019 will rise to 1.5% and then strengthen to 2.1% in 2021.
If we can see the Minster and the Department stand strong on its desire to clamp down on SOE lending as well as aim to reduce pressure on the consumer, the economy will undoubtedly start to gain ground and we will be able to restore both consumer and investor confidence which in turn translates into increased economic activity.