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Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of fiscal relief for certain taxpayers, in light of other measures imposed to combat the COVID-19 crisis, National Treasury published explanatory notes on 29 March 2020, which outline exactly how the tax system will be used to ease financial distress during these times.
Moody’s cut both the local and foreign currency-denominated debt from Baa3 to Ba1 and retained the negative outlook. Their statement highlighted South Africa’s deteriorating fiscal situation amidst very weak economic growth, saying: 'The key driver behind the rating downgrade to BA1 is the continuing deterioration in fiscal strength and structurally very weak growth.'
With severely limited fiscal space, planned economic reforms need to be fast-tracked. South Africa is in a grip of panic over the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The situation prompted an extraordinary address to the nation by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the evening of March 15. Apart from very real human health concerns, he commented that the outlook for the local economy – already on a weak footing heading into 2020 – is a big headache. Economic growth forecasts have been cut over the past few weeks as forecasters realise that the impact of the pandemic will be larger than previously thought. This begs the question: how will local authorities respond?
Budget statements have in recent years perennially made downward revisions in economic growth projections. Disappointing growth outcomes compared to official forecasts is partly attributed to the inability to implement planned structural reforms that would have delivered improved growth outcomes.
As most South Africans eagerly awaited some reprieve from a year of constant and negative bombardment, be this over matters such as a massively contracted economy, rising unemployment, state capture, rising corruption and the threat of expropriation of property without compensation, many had hoped to return from their annual vacation rested, and hopeful to hear some positive news. This did not happen.
Public sector staff expands and retail jobs disappoint. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported on that South Africa’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 29.1% during the fourth quarter of 2019. With this reading, South Africa has the fourth-highest unemployment rate out of 182 countries tracked by Trading Economics, after Namibia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Angola.
The South African Reserve Bank and National Treasury have become aware of an increase in payroll deductions in recent years. Stakeholders were engaged to create a regulatory framework to govern payroll deductions and the resulting proposal has led to three very limited options on how companies can govern employees’ payroll deductions.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s new economic strategy paper is a refreshing, much needed breath of fresh air for an economy struggling for oxygen. The paper is replete with common sense proposals all aimed at achieving the economic growth South Africa desperately needs. We have been stumbling along a low-growth path of high taxes, kilometres of red-tape, wealth redistribution, and anti-individualism for far too long. If Mboweni’s paper can be taken as a true step in a new direction, a direction of more individual freedom, South Africa will see green shoots of recovery almost immediately.
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a crime against the poor of this country as it absolutely forbids them from accepting any compensation below the floor set by government. It is reasonable, therefore, to assume that some people who could be working are not employed because of the minimum wage.