702’s Bruce Whitfield knows how to walk-the-talk when explaining financial issues in a way that even the financially challenged can understand. His light hearted banter at The MediaShop’s first breakfast forum for 2012, co-hosted with Primedia Broadcasting, dissected the budget into bite sized chunks without getting technical.
This is the third year The MediaShop Sandton has hosted a budget forum where economic industry experts provide a better understanding of what the budget means for us.
In what he termed the WTF Budget (where to financially), Bruce said “It is a Robin Hood budget with 10% of the population paying 90% of the budget and looking at this year’s budget 58%, or 58c out of every R1 collected is spent on social grants.”
Regarding SANRAL and the toll roads Bruce says even though Pravin Gordhan has given R6 billion to the roads agency to offset toll fees for Gautengers, it is still a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
History buffs will know this is not the first time South Africans have objected to toll roads. In the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek in 1894 president Paul Kruger decided to toll the main routes leading in and out of the Witwatersrand following the discovery of gold.
“The Boers were not happy,” states Bruce, “and at first simply went around the tolling stations. However, for one group in Rustenburg it got too much and after donning masks they rode out to the main tolling booth and blew up it up with dynamite. At the next elections Paul Kruger’s majority at the polls decreased and he only managed a narrow victory over the opposition.”
“History can have a funny way of repeating itself. The more things change the more things stay the same and it seems governments do not learn from history. Not that I am advocating taking the same drastic action but today’s toll roads are just as unpopular as those from over 100 years ago.
“The Finance Minister has one of the toughest jobs in the country, because he has to try and please everyone, which is never going to be easy!
“At the end of the day a budget is about creating sustainability and ensuring that the basic building blocks are in place so that the economy can grow. Without these in place the country is in trouble and as soon as a country stops investing in its infrastructure it is in even bigger trouble.”
Concluding, he said “To really create sustainability the country needs to grow the small business sector through a combination of tax relief which allows small businesses to create real jobs to stimulate and grow the overall economy. “