The President of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), Dr Anthea Cereseto, commenting on Minister Gordhan’s speech, said that NAPTOSA welcomed the 2016 budget as it gives hope to the nation during this difficult economic time. NAPTOSA applauds the approach of government not to spend money it does not have, nor borrow beyond its ability to repay. Dr Cereseto said that NAPTOSA supports government’s call on society to manage finances in a prudent and sustainable way.

The Minister called for “good governance of institutions” and a “public ethic that values honesty and fairness”. Dr Cereseto said NAPTOSA endorses these principles and calls on all to be mindful of corruption and wasteful expenditure. NAPTOSA, however, would have liked the Minister to elaborate on how corruption and wasteful expenditure would be dealt with in light of the Auditor General’s report that indicated that R25.7 billion was irregularly spent in the 2014/2015 financial year.

Dr Cereseto added that the increase in the allocation of funds for Basic Education was welcomed, and NAPTOSA was pleased that the problem of inappropriate and unsafe schools, water, and electricity needs were catered for in this budget. “It is hoped that the targets set by the Minister of Basic Education to address infrastructure backlogs will be achieved”, she added. The additional allocation for increased Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres over the next MTEF period is welcomed as it resonates with the National Development Plan which recognises that improvements in the quality of education are the foundations of broad-based sustainable growth and productivity improvement.

Educators and the public at large will be pleased that there was no increase in personal income tax, said Dr Cereseto. She added, that the Public Sector will be re-assured on account of the 12.2% growth in the investment portfolio of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF). NAPTOSA also appreciates the re-assurance given by the Minister, that reform of the retirement system will not affect Public Servants’ accrued pension benefits.

Although the Budget refers to restrictions on the filling of posts within the public sector, as part of its cost-containment measures, NAPTOSA welcomes the directive not to compromise education and health staff appointments, said Dr Cereseto.

Dr Cereseto stated that NAPTOSA applauds the increased funding to Higher Education which will, inter alia, assist higher education institutions to address the shortfall caused by keeping fees at 2015 levels. “The increase in allocation in health and social grants, whilst not significant, will provide relief to those in need”, she added.

Dr Cereseto stated the whilst there is much to applaud in this budget speech, NAPTOSA is concerned that the increase in the fuel levy and the introduction of the tyre levy will have a negative, ripple effect on costs such as transport and food which will affect the poor and middle–income earners.

In conclusion, the Minister’s call for inclusion and social cohesion is appropriate in light of recent events across the country and is endorsed by NAPTOSA, said Dr Cereseto. NAPTOSA concurs with the statement of Minister Gordhan that, “Our resilience as a nation, black and white, can propel us to a better future if we make the right choices.”

Enquiries: Dr Anthea Cereseto - 082 610 5756