SME representative organisation AHI says the National Budget tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in Parliament this afternoon erred on the side of political caution. “It was a generally cautious budget in light recent political pressure on the Treasury, low economic growth and escalating national debt”, said AHI president Bernard Swanepoel. “We are however concerned that not enough emphasis was placed on encouraging stronger growth to enable the transformation stressed during the budget speech.”

Mr. Swanepoel said the increased personal income tax burden, while probably unavoidable, would reduce disposable income and place additional pressure on the country’s small business sector. An increase in Withholding Tax on Dividends and in Capital Gains Tax would also have a negative effect on retirement and investment planning. “We look forward to seeing how the R3,9-billion for SME’s will be allocated. The promise of expanded broadband to the country and the speedier communications that implies is also to be welcomed.”

“Our advice to our members and to SME’s in general is to recommit themselves to growth. Our sector ought to be the growth engine and job creator of the economy. We will continue in our efforts to convince government that the way to sustained growth is through liberating the private sector from the shackles of red tape and inhibiting legislation.” Bernard Swanepoel is President of the AHI, the voice of South African small business for the past 75 years. Inquiries: Cobus Bester – spokesman (082) 457-7218