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Pravin Gordhan: 'South Africa Must do it for the Poor'

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has thrown down the gauntlet to the nation - either we share wealth and economic opportunities equally no...

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has thrown down the gauntlet to the nation - either we share wealth and economic opportunities equally now or we will all go bust. 

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, delivering his 2017 budget in parliament yesterday, challenged all South Africans: “Obstacles there will be many. Overcome them.

“Detractors abound. Disprove them. Negativity inspired by greed and selfishness will obstruct us. Defeat the bearers of this toxic ethic.”

He said all South Africans wherever they are must defend the gains and demand accountability.
“Be an active agent for change. Umanyano ngamandla. Unity is power,” he said.
SA Finance Minister

He said now was the time to radically transform the economy and make it more diverse, with more jobs, inclusivity and participation. Wealth remains highly concentrated, with 95% of wealth in the hands of 10% of the population,” said the minister.

He said despite progress in education, more than half of all school-leavers each year enter the labour market without a senior certificate pass. A further 75% of these will still be unemployed five years later. Gordhan emphasised that towns and cities were divided, with poverty concentrated in townships and the rural areas.

‘These are our realities. They mirror the stresses of poverty and vulnerability in many developing countries, and the inequality between the rich and poor throughout the world.” Gordhan said transformation must achieve a more balanced structure of ownership and control of wealth.

Transformation must build self-reliance, reject dependence on debt and protect fiscal sovereignty. This should be the transformation that unites the country. “Transformation must unleash growth, establish a new economic direction, mobilise investment, empower the masses and create new resources for social change,” he said.

“Transformation without economic growth will be narrow and unsustainable. Growth without transformation would only reinforce the inequalities and patterns of wealth inherited from the past.”
Weak business confidence and low levels of profitability weighed on investment across all sectors and added to lower growth with trading partners elsewhere in Africa.

“We expect somewhat higher growth in the coming year on the strength of a number of favourable trends: commodity prices have rebounded and the exchange rate has recovered from its rapid depreciation last year, which bodes well for capital flows, inflation and business and consumer confidence,” he said.

Gordhan said the low growth is a major challenge for government and citizens. The financial situation was difficult and still had to produce a credible budget. “In our communities, there are strong bonds and powerful traditions of caring. 

“These are wonderful social assets, and I believe all of us can commit to doing more to make the lives of fellow South Africans better. Let’s talk rather than fight.” - Daily Sun

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