National Treasury’s Deputy Director-General of Public Finance Dr Mampho Modise recently paid a visit to UKZN to unpack the recently tabled 2018/2019 budget.
More than 200 eager students attended the annual post budget discussion hosted by the School of Accounting, Economic and Finance (SAEF).
The public engagement platform allowed Modise, who plays a significant role in the development of the national budget, to shed light on some issues regarding the increase of Value Added Tax (VAT), personal income tax and the implementation of free Higher Education.
Modise explained how the country’s economy is in a difficult position as it has little or no growth with no tax revenue while spending pressures continue.
‘As a treasury official, tough decisions have to be made in order to achieve a sustainable budget. We have to balance many variables at once and come up with a budget that will positively affect the poor and won’t rake in resources from people who we are already taking resources from. We want a budget that won’t destroy the little growth that we have. In order to achieve this we have to ask ourselves: what is important? Do we stabilise the debt? Do we continue to borrow at a high interest costs? Do we continue to spend? Do we introduce fee free Higher Education,’ she said.
‘As the government we have decided on introducing new tax measures that will allow us to deal with the spending pressures, but also help us stabilise the debt and reduce government spending,’ she added.
Following her presentation Modise engaged in an informal question and answer session where students were not shy in tackling topics ranging from implementing sustainable fee free education, the government’s lack of action against corrupt officials and the income tax increase affecting the middle class in society.
Second-year Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting student Mr Trevor Chinyanga said that from an educational perspective, the presentation was enlightening as it gave him a glimpse of how the National Treasury operates compared to what they are taught in the lecture room.
Speaking on how the University can contribute in assisting the government in improving South Africa’s economic situation, SAEF’s Dean and Head of School Professor Mabutho Sibanda said ‘As a University we have identified the niche research focus areas that require urgency and have identified particular courses of action needed to contribute to a better society. I would like to take this opportunity to put on the table our willingness and great enthusiasm to work with the National Treasury in shaping the lives of South African citizens through applied research.’
Words: Sibonelo Shinga