By John Fraser
Make no mistake. With R69bn over three years, the state power utility Eskom is the big winner in the budget.
Cash for investment incentives is steadily being eroded, belts are being tightened to uncomfortable level all around, there will be effective tax allowance rises for taxpayers through insufficient increases in personal allowance, and all the nice things in life – booze, cigarettes, petrol, will cost more.
The Carbon Tax will be with us in just a few months; there will be a carbon tax on fuel.
Efforts will be made to speed up the retirement of state employees, some of whom will undoubtedly be popping up again as better-paid consultants.
But Eskom aid dwarfs all this.
In a media conference, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was on the defensive, as well he should have been.
He did clarify that although full-scale privatisation of Eskom is not on the cards, the generation and distribution sections will have all sorts of players, and he gave the example of the private renewable energy producers.
A Man from The Ministry – a sort of curator – will be parachuted into Eskom to keep an eye on things.
Wish him (her?) luck.
And when it comes to SAA, Toto knows he may not win the argument, but he has little enthusiasm for government bailouts there.
He suggested that whatever funds there are for transport should be directed to commuter taxis and to the railways – on which the majority of the population rely.
One footnote for the greenies among you.……
Disposable coffee cups and their lids, caps and containers, and plastic straws could all face a new tax. Watch this space.