SBI Statement on the 2023 Budget

February 21 2023
Embargo: none

Ahead of the national budget – to be tabled on Wednesday – the SBI calls on Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, to support small businesses and their employees, households and families battling high cost of living and load shedding.

“We appeal to the minister to spell out how government will be supporting South Africans from the effects of the 18% tariff increase which was granted by the regulator to Eskom. This increase, if effected, will worsen the hardship of households which are suffering from high food prices especially of sources of proteins,” says John Dludlu, SBI CEO.

A month ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he had asked the Eskom board to pause the implementation of the 18,6% increase granted to the power utility by the National Energy Regulator of SA. “We are hoping the budget provides clarity on what support will be given to families and businesses if the tariff increase is not implemented.”

On small business support, “we expect the minister to give details and quantum of envisaged relief under the redesigned ‘Bounce Back’ scheme to assist small firms to procure alternative energy away from unreliable Eskom power supply. We welcome government’s willingness to listen to perspectives of other players in the ecosystem to make the scheme more responsive to the needs of those it is aimed at assisting. The simpler the better is our message especially coming out of the Covid-19 relief schemes.

“Whilst we commend the coordinated effort to cut red tape stifling small businesses, we need these initiatives to be intensified so that we roll out red carpet treatment to business owners.”

The SBI also believes that government should redouble efforts to bolster job creation especially among the youth. “If we don’t give hope to the millions of youths, the social stability of our country will be at more risk than from any external factors and enemies. In this vein, we support the call by government on all employers to drop the requirement for experience for youths in junior, entry-level and less critical roles,” he says.

To balance the nation’s books, “we urge the finance minister to ask departments to discontinue vanity projects (like the now canned multimillion-rand gigantic national flag project).

“On a far more major scale, we need more clarity about how Eskom’s debt problem is going to be resolved in the short, medium and long term without compromising our already precarious public debt situation,” says Dludlu.

SA households are already under enormous pressure and strain. “What government gives as grants including the so-called Covid-19 grant (available to everyone who didn’t earn any grant prior the advent of the pandemic) gets eaten away by inflation. Our preference is that we create and give as many jobs to South Africans and take as many unemployed people – especially the youths – to become taxpayers instead of social grant earners. Ours is a caring society,” he adds.

Importantly, “we call on the ministers to support crime fighting initiatives of government: our law and order situation has deteriorated dramatically in recent times. Economic operators are living in constant fear of being maimed and killed and their infrastructure vandalized. We ask government to attend to this crisis,” says Dludlu.