DURBAN - As Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana prepares to table his medium term budget before parliament this afternoon, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has called on the minster to inspire and catalyse economic recovery and job creation through guaranteed stability and security that is desperately needed to support and advance reconstruction and recovery beyond Covid-19.
In a statement issued this morning, the union said the slow uptake of the Covid-19 vaccination process should be reviewed to ensure that the full opening of the economy is prioritised, allowing for the much – needed return to work for the tourism and hospitality sector.
“Failure to fully move beyond the current vaccination rate will only risk weaker economic growth and exacerbate the impact of the anticipated fourth wave of the pandemic. Moreover, the expansion of Covid-19 support measures as part of structural reforms in healthcare and NHI must be prioritised, as frontline workers remain subjected to continued exposure to the pandemic,” the union warned.
Fedusa also called on Godongwana to publicly announce the lifting of the three-year public sector wage freeze announced by his predecessors when he tables his maiden Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
According to the union the wage freeze was selective in that it targeted only ordinary public servants and not high-earning government officials, and this had only served to deepen the hardship faced by workers in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Frontline workers and public servants have only demonstrated their tenacity and commitment to the principles of Batho Pele and should not be devalued when their services have helped with both saving lives and livelihood,” the union added.
Fedusa pointed out that highly improved tax revenue collection in the current fiscal year of 2021/2022 driven by a strong commodities boom provided a sufficient basis for the minister to announce a decent allocation for public sector wage increases and move to filling up the massive vacancy rate in the public service.
Fedusa also called for urgent fiscal intervention from the government to secure a stable energy grid noting that the ongoing electricity blackouts, was crippling economic reconstruction and exacerbating unemployment.