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Recently numerous discussions and endless columns have dominated the headlines before, during, and after Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech. The long anticipated budget speech has since been analysed, dissected, and debated and although the overall sentiment seems to be cautiously optimistic there are also those who feel that it’s lacking in some areas.
However, from a job creation point of view the budget rightly emphasized the need for a collective effort from all South Africans to work together to realise a rapidly growing, alive and inclusive job-rich economy against the backdrop of a weak global economic outlook.
The minister allocated an additional R10.2-billion to the state's various job creation programmes, bringing their total allocation to R94-billion over the next three years.
The reality is that although we did see a welcome recovery in job creation during 2011, employment has not yet returned to the level it was at its peak, and the unemployment rate remains high at 23.9%.
The central focus on infrastructure clearly indicated that the government understands how important this sector is for stimulating economic growth. Over the next three years, the government plans to invest billions of Rands on infrastructure projects that include the building of dams, roads, schools and rail systems. This is expected to sustain between 50 000 and 100 000 new construction jobs.
In recent years the budget speech has become one of the most important events on the financial calendar and you have to appreciate the difficult task of minister Pravin Gordan in trying to balance the competing issues of financial constraints and high socio-political expectations, while maintaining fiscal discipline in a climate of global economic decline. Although clearly the biggest challenge is to curb corruption and ensure that, the various departments use the available finances effectively.
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