The National Budget - statement by UDM Spokesperson on Finance (17 February 2010)

The UDM welcomes the Minister's acknowledgement that we require national long-term consensus on the economy. That is why the UDM has been calling for a National Indaba on the economy.

It is regrettable that the Minister chose to talk about "starting today" on job creation; the ANC Government should’ve started 15 years ago.

The UDM is concerned about projected public debt rising to 40% of GDP by 2013; especially since lower-than-expected revenues might become a trend.

Higher fuel taxes are not welcome; this taxation increases inflation and further exacerbates the disportionately–high price of fuel in South Africa.

We broadly agree with the priorities of Education, Health, Fighting crime, Rural Development, Job creation, and Municipal and Housing investment.

The reference to the National Health Insurance was a pity, since current independent calculations indicate that it would be vastly unaffordable, amounting to hundreds of billions of Rands.

The division of revenue, with bigger portions for Provincial and Local Government is worrying since there is still no indication of how Government will ensure that the chronic inability of Provinces and Municipalities to spend these funds correctly and timeously.

The UDM believes that Government should not claim victory on large infrastructure spending when much of it will not be funded through the budget but by the public through tariffs, such as electricity tariffs. Tariffs constitute a secondary tax that increases the burden on household budgets, escalates inflation and is poured into parastatals (such as Eskom) with poor track-records and severe leadership vacuums.