Political reaction towards Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's speech presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on Wednesday was mostly warm, with special praise being given to his proposals to tackle government corruption and tender fraud.
"A lot of good noises were made, so one is cautiously optimistic," said Kobus Marais, a finance
spokesman for the Democratic Alliance. "The minister has mentioned all the important things, like job creation that we need private sector to drive.
"He hasn't said anything new on how we will achieve that. He has indicated again that the objective is for five million jobs over ten years, but he has also stated that we need a 7 percent GDP growth per year. Now the budget provides for a 3 percent growth this year up to 4.4 percent in 2013, so it is very unlikely that we will achieve that."
He said there was no other incentive like the wage subsidy for business to employ people.
But he welcomed what the minister had to say about exchange controls. "Yes the exchange control regulations, that's fantastic," he said. "That's good news, and we believe that will assist us in the economy going forward."
Jeremy Cronin deputy general secretary of the Communist Party also welcomed what Gordhan had to say about anti-corruption measures in particular the transparency around tenders. "Once a tender is awarded let them be explained, whether it is at a local level or national level, we are very pleased about that." Speaking as deputy transport minister he also welcomed what was said about infrastructure building.
Narend Singh, who speaks on finance for the Inkatha Freedom Party, also gave a general welcome to what the minister said. "There's nothing new that we've heard," he said doubtfully, "but I think that we are pleased that he has not been unduly influenced by the left. Although he has mentioned that we need to continue talking."
Singh also emphasised that the IFP was particularly pleased that there is going to be more effort in rooting out corruption. "There is no good just throwing money at departments," he said. "What is important is how they spend the money in terms of service delivery. We know that people are unhappy about police services, education and health, and we'd like to see some correction in those
Pieter Mulder the leader of the Freedom Front Plus, who is also a junior minister in President Zuma's government, said he was worried that unrealistic expectations were being created by Gordhan's promise to create five million jobs in ten years. "They will need to have a growth rate of six per cent," he said, "That is double the rate expected." He also praised the minister's actions to protect the external value of the rand.
Again the Freedom Front Plus leader also praised what Gordhan had to say about the fight against
corruption. "I hope it's not just intentions," he said.
Lance Greyling who speaks for the Independent Democrats said outside the National Assembly chamber that some of the indicators put forward by Gordhan are "certainly encouraging".
He mentioned the lower than expected deficit and the higher growth rate that is coming. "What is worrying however is the increasing unemployment," he said, "which indicates that we seem to be having jobless growth at the moment."