Let’s plant anew, says Mboweni in maiden budget speech

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni

In his maiden budget speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni called on South Africans to plant anew to, amongst others, achieve accelerated economic growth, increased tax collection and reconfigured state-owned enterprises.

In a heart-warming opening to his speech, in which he later pledged R3.7 billion to assist new farmers seeking to acquire land, Mboweni encouraged the nation to “sow the seed of renewal and growth. But for the seed to be prosperous… we must first cultivate the soil. Once we have planted the seed, we must nurture it, water it, and protect it from the extremes, the elements and time.”

He told Parliament that as a part-time farmer he knows that in order for the people to “possess all these things”, as mentioned in Zechariah 8:12, “we have to plant anew. Despite our best efforts, sometimes ravages and risks, such as pests or rot, could attack our green shoots, but we must persevere. We must prune and pluck away at the rot until there is growth. This we must do as a collective.”

Mboweni echoed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s earlier State of the Nation Address, referencing what he described as the current “robust debate on land”. He pledged to support private sector investments in agriculture to specifically support new farmers. A further R1.8 billion is allocated for the implementation of 262 priority land-reform projects over the next three years.

Other highlights from his budget speech include:

The Finance Minister warns, however, that government will this year spend R243 billion more than we earn. “We expect revenues of R1.58 trillion and spending of R1.83 trillion. Put another way, we are borrowing about R1.2 billion a day, assuming that we don’t borrow money on the weekend. This coming year, interest expenditures will be R209.4 billion. This is R1 billion per day. We are masters of our own destiny. Our determination to regain our fiscal prudence will form the basis of our economic recovery.”