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COSATU Statement on Budget Speech Expectations
19 February 2018
COSATU has welcomed President Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address. Workers are pleased that it unveils a serious programme to arrest corruption and the nation's decay and to lift the economy out of recession and create employment for workers.
We now expect a serious budget, a change from the past that will put flesh to President Ramaphosa's call to action, in particular towards creating jobs for all.
The SONA committed government to reindustrialise the economy, to boost manufacturing and increase exports. It committed to creating an economy that will absorb the millions of unemployed workers. It committed to a sector by sector plan, highlighting key economic growth sectors.
COSATU expects the budget to begin committing funds to that vision.
We expect the Minister to further flesh out the planned Jobs and Investments Summits and inclusive Economic Advisory Boards. We expect more information on how will government ensure the economy's reindustrialisation, the boosting of manufacturing and exports?
Further details are needed on how government will ensure that all spheres of the state are compelled to support local procurement and SMME's.
COSATU expects government not to throw the working and middle classes under the bus with Value Added Tax [VAT] and income tax hikes. COSATU will not support any attempt by government to balance budget shortfalls and deficits upon the backs of struggling workers.
Workers are not the ones who have looted Eskom, SAA and the state.
They should not now be expected to pay for those who have stripped the state. Government must not think that it can justify VAT and income tax hikes for the working and middle classes.
The Auditor General has identified R64 billion worth of wasteful expenditure.
The National Prosecuting Authority [NPA], having woken up from its deep coma, has identified R50 billion worth of stolen assets. Government must seize those assets to address the budget crisis. Any increase in taxes on the poor will further condemn them to hunger and stifle economic growth.
Government must remember workers are voters and they are tired.
We want to hear clear words and plans on how government is going to retrieve these stolen funds and stop the bleeding.
Government must increase taxes on imported and luxury goods and the many millionaires who find sophisticated ways to avoid paying taxes. Lifestyle audits must be conducted of the leadership of the private sector, parastatals and government to make sure they are paying their taxes in full. We cannot expect workers to be happy to pay taxes whilst politicians simply ignore SARS.
We expect clear action from government to address the collapse in leadership in SARS. This is why we now have a budget shortfall.
COSATU is warning government not to delude itself into thinking that we can stimulate economic growth through an austerity budget and cuts upon service delivery.
The SONA committed government to efficient public services.
This cannot be done by leaving teaching, nursing and policing and other critical posts vacant.
Teachers cannot be expected to perform in classes with 120 learners and no toilets or text books. Doctors cannot be expected to save when performing 48 hour shifts. Nurses cannot be expected to cure when there are no medicines. Police cannot be expected to patrol when government plans to cut SAPS personnel levels.
If government is serious about balancing the budget, let them cut the 78 member cabinet to 30. Let them reduce the size of provincial cabinets. Let them announce cuts on politicians' perks. Let them announce the halting of providing body guards to all mayors and municipal speakers.
We welcome the President's commitment to consolidate departments. This needs to be done as well with District and Local Municipalities. These need to be done in a manner that does not see any worker lose his job.
If government wants to improve the efficiency of the public service, let them reduce the massive wage gaps in the public service and state owned enterprises.
Let them improve the conditions of service of nurses, teachers, police and correctional service officers.
COSATU expects government to stop the outsourcing of permanent government work to its Expanded Public and Community Works Programmes. We now have cleaners, municipal police, road and electricity workers etc. being paid through the EPWP and CWP. This is a form of cheap labour and must be stopped.
We expect government to announce when it will stop outsourcing government work. This was a commitment that the former President made in his January 8 2015 speech. Since then little has happened.
State Owned Enterprises
We expect serious plans from the Minister on how government is going to fix the mess that the looters have created in our SOEs.
In particular we need to hear when and how Eskom, SAA, Express, Mango and Airlink, SABC, PRASA, Transnet and Denel will be cleaned up and fixed. It is not enough to change boards. There must be comprehensive forensic audits, including life style audits. Heads must roll.
The guilty ministers and CEOs fired and arrested. The culture of golden handshakes for CEOs and retrenchments for workers must end.
We expect to hear action on how government will properly fund the Post Office and fast track the Post Bank's capacitation.
COSATU demands that government intervene to stop the year after year jobs blood bath at Telkom.
COSATU expects to hear an actual plan to rescue the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and other affected areas in Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng, who's existence is threatened by running out of water.
To date we have seen chaos and political infighting and no coherent short, medium and long term plan to ensure that all our people have access to water.
To not do so is nothing short of treason.
COSATU expects the Minister and DG of Water Affairs to be fired and a impose a plan to stabilise the Department and rescue its finances from its 2017 collapse.
We expect government to share a serious plan to ensure that no worker loses his job as our energy sector evolves. There must be a clear plan to reskill and redeploy and employ all energy workers.
We cannot abandon workers who have kept the nation's lights on.
We expect the Minister of Finance to inform the Minister of Energy that the expansion of nuclear energy is not affordable and will not happen.
We commend government for committing to free tertiary education for the working class. It needs to inform us how this will be achieved. It needs to be expanded to include the middle class. Tertiary frees need to be capped and not allowed to run out of control. The TVET sector needs to be equally funded and not forgotten.
We need to hear when outsourcing will end at our universities and colleges.
We expect to hear when mud schools will end.
When will all schools have adequate supplies of teachers, text books, classrooms and toilets? The failure of Department of Basic Education to meet its infrastructure targets year after year is unacceptable.
Agriculture and Land Reform
We expect government to inform the nation when and how it will accelerate its land reform, restitution and redistributuion programmes. This needs to include meaningful support for emerging farmers and protection from cheap subsidised imports. Slogans will not take us anywhere.
COSATU welcomes the President's commitment to fast track the realisation of the National Health Insurance. We expect the Minister to explain how and when this will be achieved.
We equally warn government that the National Health Insurance must be pro-poor and not succumb to the pressures of private healthcare industry's desires to simply protect their exorbitant profits. We should not be condemning the 84% of the nation who cannot afford private medical aid. We expect the Minister to explain how public hospitals will be properly resourced.
COSATU applauds the President's pledge to remove any person blocking the transfer of the paying of social grants to the Post Office from CPS. We expect the Minister of Social Development and the acting CEO of SASSA to be fired.
A new leadership is needed.
The Presidency, DPME and Treasury need to take over this transition as clearly DSD has been a stumbling block. SASSA needs to be reintegrated into Department of Social Devlopment.
We expect the Minister to recognise and announce the end of E-Tolls and to unveil a serious affordable, safe and accessible public transport plan.
This needs to include a serious plan to fix the collapse of Metrorail.
COSATU expects to hear from government how it will fast track the eradication of informal areas and homelessness and to ensure that every home has decent sanitation and access to water and electricity.
COSATU is ready to support the President.
Now we expect government to show us how it will implement the SONA's call to action?
We will not hesitate to expose corruption and political hooligans in the state and private sector.
Our members expect government to clean up its act, defeat corruption, recover our stolen money and to finally come with a serious jobs plan that will see every worker employed in a decent permanent job.
Issued by COSATU
For more information contact:
COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082785 0687