Why the Budget Speech Matters?
Anyone who has any sort of financial life will tell you about the importance of managing your finances and tracking your expenses against your income. This is also the simple meaning of the Budget Speech and why it matters. The budget speech matters because it gives us a larger picture of the financial summary of South Africa. We get an opportunity to track the financial status of the country, monies spent on the previous financial year, losses and profits accumulated, if there are any.
And all this is reported back to the citizens by the Minister of Finance; without a budget speech we may not have a clear direction of where the tax payer’s monies are going, and how they are spent.
Why should young people care about the Budget Speech?
Young people should care about the budget speech for the same reason why they should care and know about the finances of their parents/household (like knowing how much groceries cost; which products are normally being purchased by the parents and how much do they cost, and when they’ve been purchased, how long do they last in the household, etc.).
Young people should have a say about the budget speech, and they should also have an interest in the socio-economic challenges that are facing our country. The reason for the youth to have interest in the budget speech is because every plan and decision that have been tabled by the Minister of Finance also affects them, and it may either be benefit or create additional challenges to them in the nearest future – think about the VAT increase to 15%, which increases the prices of groceries, or the decision to make flour vat-free.
Most decisions that are taken by the Minister of Finance, one way or another will affect the youth. Especially in matters like education; currently South African youth are battling with issues of fees and affordability of higher learning schooling. Young people should have an official voice to oppose and to make submissions to the National Assembly, the Presidency and to the office of the Minister of Finance as well.
What should be the Education priorities?
The core priorities that should be in the national budget speech should be about the national rollout plan of infrastructure of the South Africa’s basic education system, not only in relation to investing in the curriculum, but also in infrastructure development in the rural areas.
There is a need for the building of more schools in South Africa, as much as there is a need for new teachers; I think that the budget for education should be increased for the sake of a solid development of South Africa.
For higher learning institutions, NSFAS and student accommodation, this has always been an ongoing challenge for students, as many of those who have been accepted on higher learning institutions they end up struggling to continue with their studies as they don’t have accommodation and funds (for food and learning as well).
What can the Government do to ensure that young people follow the Budget Speech?
The fact of the matter is that young people may or may not understand the core content of the budget speech; the document might be too long and it gets boring to read. The South African government should make it a habit to initiate Q&A’s on their social media platforms, and then later they may follow up on answers, by using the Frequently Asked Questions system (FAQ).
The government should always issue a summarised version of the speech that will specifically focus on the main points that were tabled by the Minister of Finance. If young people don’t understand the budget speech they can always follow up on social media and follow the trending #hashtags that specifically speak about the budget speech. Most young people are on social media and mostly follow social media trends for them to know what is currently happening in the country.
How can young people make their voice heard in giving input and feedback to the Budget?
Young people can make their voices heard by challenging the Minister’s office in making the budget accessible and creating pathways for young people to give feedback on the budget. Every youth in this country is challenged economically, there are those who have functioning businesses and there are those who have ideas that can turn the face of this country around.
What young people need from now onward is functioning and practical solutions. There have been significant ideas that were shared in the past, now is the time for practical solutions.
The Treasury needs to demonstrate more to young people that it is mindful of young people’s lived experiences, and what is required for them to be active contributors to the economy.
Read the 2021 Budget speech here