It would be ethically unreasonable for the government to ask for South Africans who are still working for their pensions to sacrifice their monthly contributions to pay for Eskom or student studies, among others, the DA believes.
This was the reaction of the party’s senior leaders on Monday to an online news conference in response to the proposal by Dr. Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, in Parliament investigating whether money in public and private pension and provident funds cannot also be used for an affordable loan scheme to study especially the ‘missing middle’ students to finance.
John Steenhuisen, interim DA leader, Geordin Hill-Lewis, DA finance spokesman, dr. Dion George, Hill-Lewis’s deputy, and Gwen Ngwenya, the DA’s chief of policy, gave a preview at the news conference on the emergency budget that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will deliver on Wednesday.
On that budget, Hill-Lewis said there is no doubt that the ANC government will table it on Wednesday with “blood on its hands”.
“In short, South Africa lost its resilience. Businesses, families and government are vulnerable. Many have lost their lives and livelihoods unnecessarily. ”
According to Hill-Lewis, South Africa therefore needs a plan to restore its resilience.
“A resilient budget is needed that recognizes in this dire context that no savings (sharp cuts to basic services) or a large expansion of spending are possible.
“The only choice available is a very careful deployment of debt to finance the crisis response, while ensuring that economic reform promotes growth and indicates a clear path to debt stability.”
The DA panel was also asked about Nzimande’s comments on pension money, as well as that of Cosatu, which wants pension money to be invested in Eskom as well.
According to Hill-Lewis, it is not a “sustainable solution”.
“It will be extremely damaging to the interests of millions of people in South Africa who depend on their pension savings, as well as to the country’s position on whether it is reliable with financial investments.
“It’s just another of the ‘silver bullet’ solutions from the government where, instead of doing the hard things to systematically dig us out of the hole, instead of looking at the big pot of money, other people for the purpose of using it. This pot of money is becoming increasingly attractive and enticing. ”
However, he believes history shows that it can only aggravate the problems in the long run.
“If there is any worthwhile, well-managed and transparent project in South Africa that requires investment from pension funds and produces reasonable returns, it will never struggle to attract capital.
“The problem here is Eskom with its poor management and the government that runs it.”
Ngwenya said rhetoric should also be guarded for the pension funds to invest in Eskom in solidarity.
“Many South Africans stand in solidarity and invest in projects that make a social difference. This is why we pay taxes. It’s an investment in the society we live in. “
George said the DA would propose a private member bill that would allow people to take out a loan against their pension fund.