Thank the private sector for a budget that punishes only some

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Heaven knows where the money is coming from, but thankfully it is not coming from the pockets of healthy citizens who don’t smoke or drink alcohol. That must have been the first reaction of most people listening to Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni delivering his 2021 Budget.

Those in the private sector wryly noticed that the reason for no new taxes was the tax contribution of the mining sector – ironically an industry that some departments of state seem to have been intent on closing. Some mining houses have already taken the hint and left. Those who stayed came to our rescue.

Does this herald the dropping of the proverbial penny in the minds of those in the public service? We can but hope.

For the rest, the budget was as expected. No shocks, no evidence of backbone in tackling the state-owned enterprises and other elephants crowding out the chamber – only mention of them in a hand-wringing way that got no applause from those outside it.

Good to know that Covid-19 vaccines will be available to all and that the private sector will pay for quite a bit of them through medical-aid societies.

However, whichever way you look at our national finances, we are still deeply mired in debt that is rising faster than the economy can pay it back. Until we see direct action in addressing this, we are sailing ever closer to a fiscal cliff. Only a growing economy can avoid us tumbling over it. Only the private sector can provide that.

The Minister of Finance knows this. Creating short-term jobs is fine, just as charity is fine, but jobs created with taxpayers’ money by governments are short-term at best.

The fact is that all money comes from taxes on money earned by citizens employed in commerce and industry. Governments that do not realise this, are doomed to fail in the end.